— Domani Spero
It’s official. Last week, Secretary Kerry appointed Amos Hochstein as Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs. Here is his state.gov bio:
Amos J Hochstein serves as the Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs leading the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) at the U.S. Department of State. He oversees U.S. foreign policy engagement in the critical intersection of energy and national security. In this role, he advises the Secretary on global energy security and diplomacy, as well as promotes U.S. interests to ensure energy resources are used to increase economic opportunity, stability and prosperity around the world. Special Envoy Hochstein also advises the Secretary on U.S. strategy to advance global integration of renewable and clean energy sources. Prior to this role, Mr. Hochstein served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy and in that capacity oversaw the Office of Middle East and Asia and the Office of Europe, the Western Hemisphere and Africa where he lead the bureau’s energy diplomacy efforts.
Prior to joining the State Department, Mr. Hochstein spent more than 15 years advising U.S. elected officials, candidates for public office and thought leaders on domestic and global energy policy initiatives. He began his career in Washington, DC, on Capitol Hill where he served in a variety of senior level positions, ultimately serving as the Senior Policy Advisor to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mr. Hochstein first served as the principal Democratic staff person on the Economic Policy, Trade and Environment Subcommittee where he oversaw work authorizing Ex-Im Bank, OPIC and USTDA, as well as drafting legislation on export controls and trade-related multilateral organizations and regimes.
Mr. Hochstein served as Policy Director to Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT). Prior to his work with Sen. Dodd, he worked as a Senior Policy Advisor to Senator (then Governor) Mark Warner (D-VA).
Harnessing his experience in the policy, campaign and public sector, Mr. Hochstein moved to the private sector as Executive Vice President of International Operations at Cassidy & Associates. Throughout his career, he has been a counselor for both domestic and international oil and gas companies, as well as companies focusing on renewable energy. In this capacity, he assisted corporations in assessing potential new markets and the development of alternative sources of power and best strategies to bring them to market.
You may now follow (or not) Mr. Hochstein on Twitter at but he says “tweets are my own.” Now, where’s the fun in that?
* * *
Mr. Hochstein succeeds Ambassador Carlos Pascual who was appointed Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs after a stint as ambassador to Mexico. The Bureau of Energy Affairs was subsequently created in November 2011. We have posted here about Ambassador Pascual when he became the first public casualty of WikiLeaks in March 2011. Two days after that, his resignation was announced. On May 2011, Ambassador Pascual was appointed as Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs. He was nominated the first Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Energy Affairs in February 2012. The Senate did not act on the nomination and this past summer, he resigned from his State Department post to join Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.
According to the state.gov, the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) is “working to ensure that all our diplomatic relationships advance our interests in having access to secure, reliable, and ever-cleaner sources of energy.” It’s three core objectives includes energy diplomacy, energy transformation, and energy transparency and access.
Mr. Amos has been appointed to a special envoy position which requires no confirmation. He heads State’s ENR office supported by Amb. Mary Warlick as his Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Robin Dunnigan as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy and Robert F. Ichord, Jr., Ph.D. as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation.
Oh, hey, what’s that?
Wait — there’s more? Via Newsweek back in 2010, with special mention for the new special envoy, Mr. Hochstein who then oversaw the Equatorial Guinea account:
The rise in foreign lobbying may have also compromised the policymaking of current and future U.S. government officials. With little oversight, lobbyists can represent the most repressive regimes and then turn around and work in government. According to John Newhouse, author of a forthcoming book on the influence of foreign lobbies on American policies, one of John McCain’s senior foreign-policy advisers during his 2008 campaign, Randy Scheunemann, simultaneously worked for McCain and as a paid adviser to the government of Georgia, which had been accused of human-rights violations. Despite McCain’s reputation as a leading champion of human rights, Scheunemann largely escaped questions about whether his lobbying might have affected his foreign-policy advice to the powerful senator. Similarly, while at Cassidy & Associates, lobbyist Amos Hochstein oversaw the Equatorial Guinea account, which required him to argue the merits of one of the most repressive regimes on earth. Still, after leaving Cassidy, Hochstein landed a prominent job on the (ill-fated) 2008 presidential campaign of Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, a politician also known for his longstanding human-rights advocacy. Now Hochstein says he helped “move the ball forward on human rights” in the country.
Lobbying can turn down the pressure on authoritarian regimes. After years of intense lobbying, Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang managed to transform his image in Washington from a venal autocrat into a solid American ally and buddy of U.S. business. In 2006 he strode out of a meeting at Foggy Bottom with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who declared him “a good friend.”
Look, one of our readers also sent us a link to Sunlight Foundation’s Foreign Influence Explorer for Equatorial Guinea. If you have never seen it, click here for folks you may or may not know.
Oh, dear. May we please retract our congratulations now?
* * *