Kerry taps 'transparency' czar for State Dept.

Francis Rivera

Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryJohnson links Dem opponent to Clinton email scandal Senate poised to override Obama veto Overnight Defense: Debate night is here | Senate sets vote on 9/11 veto override | Kerry, McCain spar over Syria MORE is tapping a "transparency" czar to oversee the department's preservation of documents.

Ambassador Janice Jacobs, a former career diplomat, will serve as the State Department's first "transparency coordinator," Kerry announced Tuesday.

Jacobs previously served as assistant secretary of State for consular affairs and before that post helped revise U.S. visa application practices after 9/11.

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She will now lead the department's efforts to improve systems for maintaining records and responding to public requests and congressional inquiries.

"As I have repeatedly made clear, we have a fundamental obligation to document the conduct of U.S. foreign policy and to produce our records in response to requests from the public and Congress," Kerry said in a statement.

"Our records, and our ability to share them, serve as testament to our commitment to transparency and open government. I take very seriously that responsibility, and so does everyone else at the State Department."

CNN first reported the appointment, dubbing the position "email czar."

The move comes as the State Department struggles to respond to a slew of document requests relating mostly to former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonRosie O'Donnell has colorful response to Trump Pence: Trump had a 'great night' Because her lips were moving: Why Hillary lost the debate MORE, now a Democratic presidential candidate.

A senior official told CNN that the transparency czar appointment was "born out of frustration" on the part of Kerry that his department had come under fire for lacking responsiveness to public and congressional requests in recent months while responding to inquiries.

Those requests from federal judges and members of Congress come amid a federal probe into Clinton's use of a private email server while she served as secretary of State, from 2009 to 2013.

"[I]t is clear that our systems and our resources are straining to keep pace with the growing number of records we create and the expanding demand for access to them," Kerry said Tuesday.

Republicans noted within hours of the appointment news emerging that Jacobs had maxed out her donation to Clinton's presidential campaign, contributing $2,700 in June, according to Federal Election Commission documents.

Jacobs, who retired in April 2014, told The Associated Press that she made the donation while as a private citizen and that she didn't at the time expect to be called back to public service.
 
State Department spokesman John Kirby couldn't say whether Kerry knew about the donation, but said federal employees aren't barred from political donations and noted that Jacobs wouldn't be involved in "adjudicating the release of Clinton's emails," according to the AP.
 
Clinton turned over about 55,000 pages of documents from her private email server from her time as secretary of State, and a federal judge ordered the State Department to release them on a rolling basis starting earlier this summer.