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Kerry to donate 5 percent of salary to State Department charity

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with French business leaders and entrepreneurs at the U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin's residence i
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with French business leaders and entrepreneurs at the U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin's residence i

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State John Kerry will donate five percent of his annual salary to charity, joining President Barack Obama and other officials in a show of solidarity with government workers forced to take unpaid leave as a result of deep spending cuts.

Kerry would contribute $9,175 from his $183,500 State Department salary "to an appropriate charity that will benefit employees of the State Department," department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Thursday.

The funds would likely go to charities that support U.S. diplomats who have been injured or killed in the line of duty, or that support children of employees, she said.

"We're still looking at the best choice and whether all of the money will go to one, or whether it'll be spread" between different charities, Nuland said.

Defense and non-defense discretionary spending has shrunk across the board as a result of reductions under a process known as sequestration. To maintain critical functions, many agencies are making workers take unpaid leave, or furloughs.

Obama's self-imposed 5 percent pay cut from his $400,000 salary would be effective from March 1, when the spending cuts began, and would last through the end of December, an administration official said on Wednesday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will give back the equivalent of 14 days of pay to the government, about $10,750, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

Before taking up his post as the top U.S. diplomat early this year, Kerry was ranked as the richest member of the U.S. Senate, with a net worth estimated in filings for 2011 at between $184 million and $288 million.

Kerry, 69, inherited money from his mother's family and is married to the widow of a wealthy heir to the H.J. Heinz Company.

(Reporting by Paul Eckert; Editing by Todd Eastham)

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