Chuck Grassley demands information on John Kerry’s conflict of interests as White House climate czar

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The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee is questioning how former Secretary of State John Kerry is avoiding conflicts of interests between his new role as the White House‘s special envoy for climate and his long history of investing in energy interests.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking for more information about Mr. Kerry’s financial interests. The letter, in particular, comes after revelations that ethics officials have urged Mr. Kerry to divest his investments in green-energy startups and further pledge to abstain from working on certain issues.

Mr. Grassley wrote that it remains uncertain exactly which issue areas could pose a conflict of interest for Mr. Kerry.

As such, the senator requested the State Department provide documents “detailing its assessments of actual or potential conflicts” and whether Mr. Kerry had been given “any exemptions or waivers relating to those conflicts of interest.”

“It’s unclear exactly what matters Mr. Kerry has been barred from working on and whether he has received any waivers for specific matters that he would otherwise be recused from,” Mr. Grassley wrote in the letter, which was first reported by Axios. “The operation of good government requires faithful adherence to ethical rules.”

Mr. Kerry, who served as secretary of state from 2013 to 2017, made a substantial amount of money in the private sector and through speaking arrangements before rejoining government earlier this year.

In 2020 alone, Mr. Kerry earned $5 million as a global adviser to Bank of America. He also earned more than six figures as a consultant to green-energy investment firms.

Republicans lawmakers have raised concerns about Mr. Kerry’s prior work given that as the White House’s climate envoy he has significant sway over governmental decision-making. 

Last month, for instance, congressional Republicans questioned Mr. Kerry’s push for the banking sector to make larger investments in green-energy firms and projects.

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