The State Department denied reports Saturday that climate czar John Kerry flew privately to Martha’s Vineyard for former President Barack Obama’s 60th birthday party.
Mr. Kerry, who has a house on Martha’s Vineyard, “was not traveling for a party, and did not fly there privately,” and took a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, a department spokesperson said in an email.
“Secretary Kerry lives on Martha’s Vineyard, he did not travel there for a party. He took a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, he did not fly (commercial or private.),” said the spokesperson in an email.
The [U.K.] Daily Mail posted photos of Mr. Kerry disembarking from a plane and then walking his dogs at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport in Massachusetts before Saturday’s shindig as part of a story on the Obama bash.
“Presidential envoy for climate John Kerry took a private jet to the island of Martha’s Vineyard,” said the newspaper, while Fox digital editor Peter J. Hasson tweeted, “Flight records confirm that this was the Kerry family private jet.”
The website Flight Aware said that a private jet identified in previous media reports as the Kerry family plane landed Friday in Martha’s Vineyard, coinciding with Mr. Obama’s 60th birthday bash on his compound at Martha’s Vineyard.
Mr. Kerry, who served as Mr. Obama’s Secretary of State, has been tailed by criticism over the disconnect between his climate advocacy and his trips aboard his family’s private jet.
Rep. Lance Gooden, Texas Republican, was among those who accused Mr. Kerry of climate hypocrisy.
“Joe Biden’s Climate Czar John Kerry took a private jet to Barack Obama‘s birthday party,” tweeted Rep. Lance Gooden, Texas Republican. “When will Greta Thunberg be calling him out?”
Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, tweeted, “What a fraud. To John Kerry, global warming is an existential threat that means hundreds of thousands of Americans must lose their jobs. But it’s not quite serious enough to put away his private jets.”
The Kerry family jet has made 16 trips since January, according to Fox News, but the State Department said he was not aboard those flights, and that he “travels commercially or via military air in his role as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.”
Mr. Kerry defended his private flights after he was asked about taking his jet to Iceland to accept an environmental award in 2019, saying that, “If you offset your carbon, it’s the only choice for somebody like me, who is traveling the world to win this battle.”
A favorite target of climate activists, private jets emit an estimated 40 times more carbon per passenger than commercial airlines.
Mr. Obama’s 60th birthday party has drawn a bevy of A-list celebrities, including John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Dwyane Wade, Don Cheadle, Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Colbert, according to the Daily Mail.
The guest list originally included at least 500 people, but was scaled back for “only family and close friends” after media reports raised the possibility that it could become a novel coronavirus super-spreader event.
Still, aerial photos posted Saturday show a massive tent and several smaller ones, as well as a dance floor and a raised stage, on the lawn of the Obama’s $12 million acre compound, prompting questions about the event’s actual size.
Mr. Obama turned 60 on Wednesday.