While ordinary Americans struggle to pay their bills, the Obama Administration’s State Department maintains a deeply troubling pattern of awarding access and favors to rich and powerful individuals and organizations.
As Reuters notes in a January 2013 report, then Senator Kerry, whose net worth has been estimated to be between $184.3 million and $287.7 million, stated: “I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that has a direct and predictable effect on my financial interests . . . unless I first obtain a written waiver.” Kerry’s statement echoes then Senator Hillary Clinton’s statement, which was issued before assuming office as Secretary of State, indicating that she was committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct for government officials.
But just as scandal loomed over the Obama Administration’s State Department during its first term, it now appears Secretary Kerry’s tenure is rocked by evidence of an apparent conflict of interest as well. As reported in the Daily Caller, millions of dollars have been funneled through the Peace Corps to a nonprofit foundation created and directed by Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter. In a scheme that demands an honest and detailed explanation, the Department of State funded a Peace Corps program and then the Peace Corps awarded the money without competitive bids to a nonprofit established by Dr. Vanessa Kerry, who created the program.
The program, the Seed Global Health program helmed by Dr. Kerry, initially received a three-year contract worth $2 million in State Department money on September 10, 2012. At the time, her father was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which oversees both the Department of State and the Peace Corps. Seed then secured a four-year extension of its contract, again without competition in September 2015. This extension was worth $6.4 million to Seed. As evidence of her direct financial interest, Dr. Vanessa Kerry drew a salary from Seed for the first time in 2014. She received $140,000 for a reported 30 hours per week. More troubling is evidence that Dr. Kerry received assurance that she should not have to compete with other groups for Department of State funds.
While both Seed spokesman Mark Marino and Department of State spokesman John Kirby deny that there is any conflict of interest afoot, and while the Obama Administration persists in applauding itself for transparency despite a recent Associated Press report showing that 77% of Freedom of Information Request (FOIA) are either censored or completely denied, the American people should be skeptical of such self-serving claims.
Skepticism is required because evidence of conflicts of interests and misconduct abound within the Obama Administration. For instance, a recently released batch of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails extracted from her private server confirms a disquieting and undemocratic pattern that is consistent with pay-to-play schemes favoring rich and influential donors to the Clinton Foundation. Given this background, a crucial question in Secretary of State John Kerry’s case surfaces: has the daughter of a wealthy Secretary of State received unequal access to power and State Department funds at the expense of ordinary Americans despite the Obama’s Administration stated commitment to openness and transparency?
The American people demand answers to such questions.
The ACLJ’s Government Accountability Project has already filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration’s State Department with regard to its lies and coverups regarding nuclear negotiations with Iran. We have also sent numerous other FOIA requests demanding justice and accountability from the Obama Administration’s growing Executive lawlessness and corruption.
A nation committed to the rule of law must insist on answers to legitimate questions and accountability for all public officials no matter how frequently they capitulate to an irresistible pattern favoring the rich and influential.
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