WASHINGTON—Today, Democratic members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs called on Secretary of State John Kerry to resist any attempt by the incoming Administration to single out individual employees who have worked in support of Obama Administration priorities.  In light of reports that Transition officials at the Department of Energy requested the names of officials who worked on climate-change-related issues, 18 Committee members urged State Department leaders to follow suit with their Energy Department counterparts and refuse any such request.

In a letter to Secretary Kerry, the Members wrote, “We believe your Department should work to ensure a smooth transition of power.  However, individual civil servants, Foreign Service Officers, and other staff should not be singled out for their work in support of policy objectives that clash with the next Administration’s goals, leaving them vulnerable to retribution by the incoming Administration. In our view, gathering names in this manner bears striking resemblance to dark chapters in our history marked by enemies lists and political witch hunts.”

The letter also informed the State Department that the Democratic Foreign Affairs Committee website will soon allow State Department and USAID employees a secure way to report waste, fraud, and abuse of authority, including discrimination and other civil rights violations.

The letter was signed by Ranking Member Eliot L. Engel (NY); Asia Subcommittee Ranking Member Brad Sherman (CA); Europe Subcommittee Ranking Member Gregory W. Meeks (NY); Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Ranking Member Albio Sires (NJ); Representative Gerald E. Connolly (VA); Middle East Subcommittee Ranking Member Theodore E. Deutch (FL); Representative Brian Higgins (NY); Africa Subcommittee Ranking Member Karen Bass (CA); Terrorism Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member William R. Keating (MA); Rep. David N. Cicilline (RI); Rep. Ami Bera (CA); Rep. Alan Grayson (FL); Rep. Alan S. Lowenthal (CA); Rep. Grace Meng (NY); Rep. Lois Frankel (FL); Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX); Rep. Brendan F. Boyle (PA); and Rep. Robin L. Kelly (IL).

Full text of the letter follows and can be viewed here.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We recently learned of reports that President-Elect Trump’s transition team has requested the names of individual employees who have worked on climate-change-related issues at the Department of Energy. We understand that the Department of Energy has rejected this request and will not single out individual employees.

This is the right decision, and, as members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, we urge State Department leadership to follow suit should a similar situation arise with regard to any of the Obama Administration’s policy priorities.

We believe your Department should work to ensure a smooth transition of power.  However, individual civil servants, Foreign Service Officers, and other staff should not be singled out for their work in support of policy objectives that clash with the next Administration’s goals, leaving them vulnerable to retribution by the incoming Administration. In our view, gathering names in this manner bears striking resemblance to dark chapters in our history marked by enemies lists and political witch hunts.

We want to make sure you and the Department of State know that you have our full support as you seek to protect the Department’s public servants.

To help ensure that individual employees aren’t victims of retribution for carrying out their official duties, the Democrats on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs will soon add a link to our website that will assist State Department and USAID employees in reporting unethical or illegal practices. Whistleblowers are entitled to protections under federal law, and we hope this new tool will help ensure that employees feel safe when reporting evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse of authority, including discrimination and other civil rights violations.

Thank you for all of your efforts.

Sincerely,

ELIOT L. ENGEL                  BRAD SHERMAN

GREGORY W. MEEKS           ALBIO SIRES

GERALD E. CONNOLLY         THEODORE E. DEUTCH

BRIAN HIGGINS                 KAREN BASS

WILLIAM R. KEATING DAVID N. CICILLINE

AMI BERA                         ALAN GRAYSON

ALAN S. LOWENTHAL          GRACE MENG

LOIS FRANKEL                   JOAQUIN CASTRO              

BRENDAN F. BOYLE           ROBIN L. KELLY

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