President Biden appointed a senior-level official to the Environmental Protection Agency who didn’t hand over his job at a Hong Kong university – prompting concern amongst members of Congress and a authorities watchdog group relating to the university’s hyperlinks to the Chinese authorities.

Chris Frey was appointed in February to function deputy assistant administrator for science safety on the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. In May, Frey disclosed that he was on an unpaid depart of absence from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“This appointment showed a lack of judgment from the Biden administration,” Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., educated Fox News. “Frey will be one of the highest-level officials in the EPA.”

Norman led a letter with 4 utterly totally different Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee making an attempt to discover information from the EPA about communications between Frey and the university since Jan. 20; communications between Frey and the EPA associated to potential Biden administration safety on China; and all communications amongst EPA ethics officers relating to Frey’s prior connections with Chinese entities.

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“Instead of resigning his position with HKUST, he is only taking a leave of absence, indicating Dr. Frey intends to return to work for HKUST after his service in the Biden administration,” the letter says. “At a time when the Biden administration is pushing for costly climate change ‘solutions’ that benefit China, it raises questions about why a senior EPA official has such strong ties to China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.”

A banner at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Inset, Chris Frey. (Photo by Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

A banner at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Inset, Chris Frey. (Photo by Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post by way of Getty Images)
(Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post by way of Getty Images)

China accounts for 27% of the emission of the world’s greenhouse gasses – mainly most likely essentially the most of any nation. The United States is a distant second at 11%, adopted by India at 6%.

“No one seems to have considered the emoluments clause. He’s on a leave of absence. Why didn’t he resign?” Norman added by the interview, referring to the clause of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits a federal official from receiving one factor of worth from a overseas authorities entity or its advertising and marketing marketing consultant. 

The authorities watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust first obtained Frey’s May 11 ethics recusal assertion through the Freedom of Information Act. The group’s director, Michael Chamberlain, generally called the university “an arm of the Chinese government.”

Universities in Hong Kong have been reportedly cracking down on educational freedom amongst faculty and college faculty college students whereas supporting China’s communist authorities. Specifically, Frey’s employer, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, suspended a group of students for holding a memorial service for a pupil killed by the 2019 freedom protests in course of the Chinese authorities, the New York Times reported. 

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There is nothing uncommon about Frey’s depart of absence, in accordance to the EPA. 

“Dr. Frey followed EPA ethics guidelines and correctly disclosed his affiliation with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology,” EPA spokesman Timothy Carroll educated Fox News in an electronic mail. 

“Consistent with White House policy over several administrations, political appointees (with the exception of Senate-confirmed appointees) are permitted to take a leave of absence from an academic institution during their government tenure, provided that the required recusals are in place to avoid a potential or actual conflict of interest,” Carroll continued. “Dr. Frey has executed the appropriate recusal statement and will continue to follow the guidance of ethics officials.”

The EPA online biography of Frey references his publish because of the Glenn E. and Phyllis J. Futrell distinguished professor at North Carolina State University however makes no degree out of the Hong Kong university. Frey has beforehand labored on EPA advisory boards and committees for clear air and for science. 

Norman, the South Carolina congressman, mentioned this omission is one totally different event of an absence of transparency from the Biden administration. 

Frey’s ethics recusal statement in May mentioned he took a two-year unpaid depart from his adjunct place with the Hong Kong university – in addition to to from his full-time professor job at North Carolina State University – after a dialogue with the EPA’s Office of General Counsel. 

“I have been advised by OGC/Ethics that I have a financial interest in North Carolina State University (NC State) and the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST) from which I have taken a two-year, unpaid leave of absence,” Frey wrote contained in the recusal assertion to the EPA. 

“Therefore, I may not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter that, to my knowledge, has a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of either entity unless I first obtain a written waiver or my participation is permitted by a regulatory exemption.”

The recusal assertion goes on to degree out utterly totally different entities, equal to consulting work for the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department.