Remember when Susan Rice, the likely nominee for secretary of state, had those investments in fossil fuel companies — including companies linked to Keystone XL? This was considered hugely problematic, given that the State Department is responsible for final approval of the pipeline. But Obama didn’t nominate Rice.
Meet John Kerry, nominee for secretary of state, who has investments in fossil fuel companies — including companies linked to Keystone XL. For now. From The Boston Globe:
Within 90 days of becoming Secretary of State, Senator John F. Kerry and his wife have agreed to divest nearly 100 separate investments in the United States and abroad — ranging from oil companies to weapons makers and a Chinese food company — in an effort to avoid conflicts of interest, according to a copy of his so-called ethics agreement. …
The divestitures of Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry, the heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune, include Cenovus Energy Inc., the Canadian company that would benefit from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline; Waltham-based Raytheon Co.; Exxon Mobil Corp.; drug maker Pfizer; communications giant Qualcomm Inc. and AT&T; American Express; Microsoft; a number of international private equity firms; and dozens of others.
Here’s Kerry’s full statement [PDF] on the divestiture, if you’re for some reason interested.
When the revelations about Rice arose, we noted that even Hillary Clinton had ties (albeit not financial ones) to TransCanada, through a staff person. We also noted yesterday that the decision on Keystone will be Obama’s, not Kerry’s (assuming Kerry is confirmed by the Senate, which he will be). Kerry and his wife — who inherited the Heinz family fortune from her late husband, Sen. John Heinz (R-Penn.) — are worth around $200 million, so even if they donated these investments to charity they’d still probably be able to eat. Maybe only Heinz products, but still.
This divestment is from an abundance of caution as much as the legal obligation to avoid any conflict of interest. It’s not like Kerry was forced to abstain from voting on issues related to economic disparity or the role of complex financial instruments during his tenure in the Senate. Can you imagine? A law mandating that no millionaire member of Congress could vote for any policy benefiting millionaires? We’d pass expanded health care for the middle class by a quorum vote of 6 to 2.
Anyway, this bit of showmanship is now taken care of. As you were, Washington.