Biden Administration Sued for Attempting to Keep John Kerry Docs Secret Until After 2024 Election
The State Department is being sued by a watchdog organization for withholding documents relating to John Kerry.
Protect the Public’s Trust, a government watchdog, filed a transparency suit against the State Department, Fox News reported.
PPT filed the lawsuit after the State Department said that it would not be able to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act request the group filed.
Kerry is the presidential climate envoy. PPT asked for documents relating to his office. But the State Department said that the documents would not be available until after the 2024 presidential election.
“The action seeks to enforce the organization’s legal rights regarding a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records involving John Kerry’s Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change (SECC), a request which State estimates it will be unable to complete until November 18, 2024,” a press release from PPT said.
PPT is calling out the Biden administration for refusing to be transparent, despite promises of honesty.
“The Biden administration promised to be the most transparent ever,” Michael Chamberlain, PPT’s director told Fox News. “But when the State Department is asked for records about John Kerry’s office – whose work touches on energy prices, international relations, many of the issues the American public cares about right now – they refuse to commit to anything until after the next presidential election.”
“It doesn’t take a huge cynic to believe politics may be a factor,” he added.
PPT originally filed the FOIA request on Oct. 20, 2021. The documents requested included external and internal communications and legal counsel communication from Special Envoy for Climate Change senior advisor Jesse Young.
The State Department’s refusal to grant this FOIA request is especially remarkable since Attorney General Merrick Garland recently sent a memo to heads of governmental departments and agencies about the importance of FOIAs.
Garland quoted the Supreme Court, highlighting that FOIAs have a “‘basic purpose … is to ensure an informed citizenry,’ which is ‘vital to the functioning of a democratic society [and] needed to check against corruption and to hold the governors accountable to the governed,'” Garland’s memo read.
In a tumultuous time in the U.S., PPT particularly argued that it needs documents from Kerry’s climate-focused office, since this is an issue that directly relates to things like gas prices and issues that affect every American.
“The American public is suffering from intense pain at the pump, rising inflation, and the specter of armed conflict in Europe. Yet the State Department is claiming the need to withhold records that could shed light on an office that is run by former presidential candidate and Secretary of State John Kerry until after the next Presidential election,” PPT’s press release said.
“Mr. Kerry is charged with leading one of the administration’s top priorities and is performing work that could have immense impacts on Americans’ pocketbooks, record inflation, and international crises,” it continued.
PPT revealed in its press release that part of its legal arguments will rely on the need for transparency and accountability.
“As the Garland Memo makes clear, ‘Timely disclosure of records is also essential to the core purpose of FOIA.’…An agency purporting to give itself more than three years to complete a FOIA request is anything but timely. Particularly where, as here, the Department’s proposed completion date conveniently allows it to hide information about high level political appointees working on one of the Administration’s highest priorities until just after the next Presidential election. This can hardly be said to promote ‘transparency’ or ‘accountability,'” PPT’s memo said.
Chamberlain added that this whole delay in fulfilling a FOIA filing is just more proof of how government departments have gotten caught up in political motivations and discarded transparency.
“Delaying the release of records about one of the most high-profile, high-priority offices, run by one of the most prominent political figures, until after a relevant election is an affront to not only the AG’s guidance but to basic principles of public service,” Chamberlain added to PPT’s memo. “If anyone were wondering why trust in the government is so low, this case is Exhibit A.”
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