FIRST ON FOX: Top House Republicans are probing Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry over his role in the Biden administration and alleged efforts to "shield" information from oversight.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the top GOP member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, penned a letter Tuesday to Kerry, requesting information about his office and communications with outside parties. Comer's letter cited multiple Fox News Digital reports showing that Kerry's office has been tight-lipped about internal operations and has coordinated with far-left environmental groups on policy.
"It is of critical importance that we conduct oversight over John Kerry’s position as the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and examine how the role impacts the interests of the United States," Comer told Fox News Digital in a statement.
"Despite not being confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Secretary Kerry appears to be actively negotiating with the Chinese Communist Party and is partnering with radical, left-wing environmental groups to push Green New Deal policies at the expense of the American people," Comer added. "Instead of ignoring our requests for information, the Biden Administration should provide the American people details on Secretary Kerry’s role and what authority, if any, he has to broker deals with hostile foreign adversaries."
In the letter — which was joined by Oversight Subcommittee on Environment Ranking Member Yvette Herrell, R-N.M. — Comer noted that Kerry's office has failed to respond to previous requests for information. Comer and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, demanded information from Kerry in June 2021, but never received a response.
Republican lawmakers have repeatedly expressed concerns that Kerry, who also serves on the National Security Council in a cabinet-level position that didn't require Senate confirmation, may be hiding key information about his role in climate policy. President Biden appointed Kerry as the State Department's first-ever special presidential envoy for climate immediately after taking office.
"We requested information regarding your position as special presidential envoy for climate—a cabinet-level position that does not require Senate confirmation despite your ability to bind the United States to international agreements," Comer and Herrell wrote to Kerry. "To date, you have failed to respond."
"Recent reports raise more questions about your office’s lack of transparency and its relationship with radical left-wing environmental organizations," they added. "As such, we request information about the role of your office and your communications with third party organizations outside of the government."
In the letter, Comer and Herrell cited several recent reports from Fox News Digital which shed light on the internal working of Kerry's office for the first time since he assumed the position.
Emails obtained in August by Fox News Digital via government watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) showed officials in Kerry's office discussed plans to keep certain high-level discussions "off paper." The office further redacted the name of every State Department official included, either directly or indirectly, in the emails.
In addition, the email dump revealed that Kerry's office, which represents the U.S. in international climate discussions, has consulted with environmental groups on multiple occasions. The internal communications didn't show any similar meetings or discussions with fossil fuel industry stakeholders.
"For an administration claiming to be guided by the science, there are more than a few indications that the input of their political allies may be a bigger driver of policy," PPT Director Michael Chamberlain told Fox News Digital in August. "Little wonder that the American public’s trust in its government is in free fall."
A separate report from Fox News Digital showed that Kerry has staffed his office with individuals who have previously worked at groups like the United Nations Foundation, World Resources Institute, International Monetary Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council. Such climate-focused organizations have advocated for and spearheaded international campaigns to transition away from fossil fuels.
And another report, published in September, showed that green groups have appeared to act as a go-between in certain climate discussions involving Kerry's office.
"We are also aware that you or your staff routinely meet with leaders of multiple left-wing environmental groups that may be unduly influencing policy," Comer and Herrell continued in the letter. "The timing of these meetings—before high-level international summits—indicate that these groups may have influence over foreign or domestic policy decisions."
The Oversight GOP leaders pointed to one instance in which State Department officials discussed an environmentally acceptable ‘counteroffer to the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative’ with green groups. China's Belt and Road Initiative is a massive effort by the Chinese government to exert influence across the world by constructing infrastructure and energy projects stretching from Asia to Europe.
"Apparently, no such discussions were had with domestic energy groups representing the oil or natural gas industries," Republicans added.
The lawmakers argued it is "critical that the American people understand" Kerry's role in shaping American energy policy, especially during a period of increased consumer prices.
"At a time when Americans are paying more for electricity and gasoline, the public deserve to understand your role in the government, how your office is spending their hard-earned tax dollars, who you employ to carry out your mission, and with which organizations you are consulting," they wrote.
"Deliberate efforts to shield your office from oversight are unacceptable, and raise further questions about your role in policymaking."
Comer requested that Kerry preserve all relevant documents to allow the committee to conduct its congressional oversight and investigative duties.
Kerry's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.