On Tuesday, House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) has sent a final letter to U.S. Department of State Secretary Antony Blinken, requesting all documents and information related to the activities and budget of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC) John Kerry.
Kerry’s unchecked position, which doesn’t require Senate confirmation, has raised concerns as he negotiates deals with foreign governments, including the Chinese Communist Party, potentially undermining the United States’ interests.
Despite multiple requests from the Committee, the Biden Administration has failed to respond to their inquiries on Kerry’s activities and spending, which raises transparency issues. Kerry, The Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC), is responsible for leading the United States’ efforts to combat climate change and promoting global climate action.
In the letter, James Comer demanded transparency and stated, “Envoy Kerry is engaging in activities that skirt congressional authority, threaten foreign policy under the guise of climate advocacy, and could undermine our economic health.” He continued, “Yet, Envoy Kerry and his office are refusing to be transparent about their activities, spending, and staffing with the Committee—and the American people.”
Former Ranking Member Comer had previously requested information on John Kerry’s role within the Biden Administration in June 2021 and October 2022 during the last Congress. As the current Chairman of the Committee, he has renewed this request for information since February 2, 2023.
The lack of transparency has raised concerns about the budget of the SPEC office and the individuals involved in its operations. The Committee has requested “all documents and communications regarding elements of the budgets of the SPEC, including those discussed off the record.”
Additionally, they have asked for “a full list, including names, titles, and salaries of all individuals currently and previously employed by the office of the SPEC, as well as all ethics and financial disclosures of those individuals.”
Furthermore, the Committee has also asked for “all documents and communications between any individual or individuals within the office of the SPEC and any third party, including but not limited to any environmental advocacy group or foreign government official” as well as “all documents and communications regarding domestic and international travel of the SPEC.”
The lack of transparency from Envoy Kerry’s office has left the Committee with no choice but to consider other means, including compulsory process, to acquire the requested documents and information.
The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is the principal oversight committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and has broad authority to investigate “any matter” at “any time” under House Rule X.
The threat of a subpoena is a serious step that can be taken by a congressional committee to compel an individual or organization to produce documents or testify before Congress.
If the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability decides to issue a subpoena to John Kerry or anyone associated with his office, it would mean that they are willing to use the full extent of their powers to obtain the requested documents and information. A subpoena is a legal order that must be obeyed, and failure to comply with a subpoena can result in penalties such as fines or even imprisonment.