Story at a glance
- John Kerry is a special presidential envoy for climate in the Biden administration.
- His wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, is chair of the Heinz Endowments and the Heinz Family Philanthropies and reportedly owns a jet.
- The jet is registered to an LLC at the address of the Heinz Family Foundation.
The airline industry has long been criticized for its outsized impact on the environment and a recent study found that just one percent of the world’s population contribute to 50 percent of airline emissions. Now reports of John Kerry’s ties to a company that owns a private jet are raising the question: is he part of that one percent?
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The address given for the Flying Squirrel LLC in Federal Aviation Administration records is the same as the Heinz Family Foundation, chaired by Teresa Heinz Kerry, whose husband is leading the Biden administration’s international climate efforts. A jet owned by the charter company was issued a registration certificate by the FAA in July 2005 and expires in October 2023.
While Secretary of State under President Obama, Kerry reported more than $1 million in assets through Flying Squirrel and between $50,001 and $100,000 of income in rent and royalties, according to a filing published by Fox News. There’s no evidence that he used the jet or profited from the Flying Squirrel since taking his current position with the Biden administration.
Questions about Kerry's use of private jets first arose in 2004, when the then-Massachusetts senator ran for president (many presidential candidates use jets on their campaigns). Media attention focused heavily on Heinz Kerry, who inherited much of the Heinz family fortune after her husband, then-Pennsylvania senator John Heinz, died in a plane crash in 1991. Heinz Kerry’s refusal to release her tax returns brought scrutiny on her financial affairs, including her stake in the Flying Squirrel LLC, which her husband’s campaign reportedly paid for the use of its private jets.
It wasn't illegal as long as she charged market rates, but Heinz Kerry's involvement in her husband's campaign followed him to a defeat in the presidential election. Now special presidential envoy for climate in the Biden administration, Kerry sits on the National Security Council as international "climate czar” and speculation over his use of private jets raises questions about the environmental footprint.
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