Senator Menendez Asks WH to Withdraw Mark Burkhalter as Ambassador Pick For Norway

 

On May 15, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate J. Mark Burkhalter, of Georgia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Norway. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mr. Burkhalter is a Senior Advisor in the Public Policy and Regulation practice at Dentons U.S. LLP, and plays a significant role in Dentons’ public affairs and economic development initiatives in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Burkhalter represented the Atlanta suburbs of north Fulton County in the Georgia General Assembly for 18 years, where he focused on promoting economic development, business growth, and quality of life in the greater metropolitan Atlanta area.  He left office as the Speaker Emeritus, having served as Speaker of the House and Speaker Pro Tempore.

Parallel to his government service, Mr. Burkhalter built a successful career in real estate development.  He received his B.A. at the University of Georgia with a double major in German and Slavic Languages, and Global Studies/Political Science.  He is conversant in German.

On July 2, WaPo reports that the nominee “did not disclose his involvement in the creation of a racist flier that distorted the features of a black politician in Georgia.”
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is urging the White House to withdraw the Burkhalter nomination.
The most recently confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Oslo , Kenneth J. Braithwaite became the 77th @SECNAV last May. 

 

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SFRC Chairman @SenatorRisch Chickens Out From Holding Oversight Hearing With Pompeo

 

Michael Pack’s Nomination to be @USAGMgov Head Hits Double Snag

 

New Arms Control Special Envoy Marshall Billingslea Now Nominated as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security (T)

 

On May 1st, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Marshall Billingslea to be the next Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security (T). Last month, Mr. Billingslea was appointed Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control. He was previously nominated as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (J) in 2018; he had a confirmation hearing in 2019 but that nomination appeared to have gone nowhere.
If the J nomination did not go anywhere in a GOP-controlled Senate, why would this nomination fare any better?
In any case, if confirmed, he would oversee the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance; the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation and the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.  
The immediate predecessor to this position is Andrea L. Thompson who was appointed in 2018 and left her position the following year (see Pompeo Announces Departure of Andrea Thompson as Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security).  With the exception of career diplomats Reginald Bartholomew (1989–1992) and Frank G. Wisner II (1992–1993), all other appointees to the “T” bureau were political appointees. Click here for the names of previous appointees.

Via WH:

Marshall Billingslea, of Virginia, to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

Mr. Billingslea is the Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control at the State Department.  He has also recently served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing.

A former Managing Director at Deloitte, Mr. Billingslea has also served at the Department of Defense as Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Negotiations Policy.  He was Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and a Senior Professional Staff Member for National Security Affairs for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Billingslea received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the Cross of Merit of the Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, and the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana of Estonia, among other awards.  Mr. Billingslea earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College, and an M.A. from The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

 

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Certificate of Demonstrated Competence: Aldona Wos, M.D (Nominee For Canada)

Via state.gov

SUBJECT:            Ambassadorial Nomination:  Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST:                  Canada

CANDIDATE:     Aldona Wos, M.D.

Aldona Wos is a physician, public policy leader, and philanthropist with broad expertise in public health and global affairs. Dr. Wos currently serves as Vice Chair of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.  Previously, Dr. Wos served as the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, managing 17,000 employees and $20 billion budget.  She was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia under President George W. Bush.  Currently, she serves on the Boards of Directors of the Council of American Ambassadors, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and The Institute of World Politics.  Dr. Wos was also a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Council.  In addition, Dr. Wos has worked on behalf of the United Ways of Greater Greensboro and of Greater High Point for two decades.  She is the Vice President of the Louis DeJoy and Aldona Wos Family Foundation.  Dr. Wos’ diverse leadership and life experience, coupled with her deep commitment to international affairs, diplomacy, and public service, make her an excellent candidate to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Canada.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Wos worked for two decades as a physician specializing in internal medicine and pulmonary care.  She has been active as a Member of the Republican Regents, Republican National Committee.  Among her many other roles in public life, Dr. Wos currently serves on the Duke University Law School Board of Visitors and previously was on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.  She was also the founder of the Committee for the Preservation of the artwork of Jan Komski, Auschwitz Eyewitness.

Dr. Wos attended Marquette University and then the Warsaw Medical Academy from which she received her Doctor of Medicine degree.  She is the recipient of numerous awards, including one from the Polish Government and several from the Government of Estonia marking her distinguished service there as U.S. Ambassador.

 

Wos, Aldona, M.D. – Canada – March 2020

Just Security: Legacy of Late State Department Human Rights Champion Tex Harris Reverberates Today

 

Martin Edwin Andersen, a former professional staff member on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the author of Dossier Secreto: Argentina’s Desaparecidos and the Myth of the Dirty “War.” Below is an excerpt from his piece, Legacy of Late State Department Human Rights Champion Tex Harris Reverberates Today via Just Security:

Harris began working in Buenos Aires in June 1977, 12 years after joining the Foreign Service and a year after then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made comments in a closed-door meeting that Robert C. Hill, a Nixon ambassadorial appointee, later revealed served as a “green light” to the Argentine junta for its campaign of disappearances, torture, and state terror.
[…]
Harris put himself at risk almost daily at his post with the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. He tried to help thousands of families seeking news about those kidnapped, tortured, and clandestinely executed as part of a delusional bloodfest by Argentina’s generals. Harris’ work demonstrated that the junta’s drive to eradicate the much-exaggerated, if vicious, leftist terrorist movement also killed or “disappeared” thousands of innocents, including children, pregnant women, senior citizens, and handicapped individuals. According to an Argentine Foreign Ministry statement last week, from 1977 to 1979, Harris filed some 13,500 official complaints on human rights violations.
[…]
The tensions became so acute that Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David D. Newsom, who sympathized with Harris’ plight, brokered a previously unheard of agreement between the embassy country team and the human rights officer. The pact was meant to ensure that critical information and analysis was included as “official-informal” letters sent to Washington, even if the country team disagreed. Harris was required to share a copy of his reporting with Castro, but in return he was able to get unfettered information and analysis into the right hands without fear of censorship from his Buenos Aires office mates.

The agreement was frequently broken by Harris’ embassy foes. In one instance, a misleading performance evaluation jeopardized his career advancement, as critics claimed that he was not producing enough human rights reports even as they prevented the many he produced from being sent to Washington. A now-forgotten political counselor lectured Harris on the importance of “working for those who had more experience and wisdom.”
[..]
An unforgettable mentor as well as role model for many of those who fought to make Carter’s human rights revolution a reality, Harris will be remembered as a real hero, especially at this particularly troubled time abroad for American democracy and leadership.

Read in full below:

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Certificate of Demonstrated Competence: William Ellison Grayson, Nominee For Republic of Estonia

 

Via state.gov

Grayson, William Ellison – Republic of Estonia – February 2020

SUBJECT:            Ambassadorial Nomination:  Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST:                   Republic of Estonia

CANDIDATE:     William Ellison Grayson

William E. “Bill” Grayson is a senior financial services executive, lawyer, and public servant.  He is currently the National Director – Family Offices of Bernstein Private Wealth Management in San Francisco, California.  He has more than two decades of experience in investment, marketing and management positions in large global investment firms and as president of a SEC registered investment adviser.  Mr. Grayson also has a long record of public service.  He was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to be the Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Army where he oversaw the Army’s 2,700 lawyers.  President George W. Bush appointed him as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and then nominated him to the Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board.  During the Obama Administration he served as a Regional Panelist for the White House Fellows Commission.  He was appointed by President Donald Trump to the Presidio Trust Board of Directors in San Francisco, and was elected Board Chair by his fellow directors.   Mr. Grayson’s considerable leadership experience, and familiarity with public policy, finance, defense, and the e-government and technology initiatives so important in Estonia, make him an excellent candidate to serve as Ambassador to that nation.

Mr. Grayson has served on numerous boards of trustees and investment committees, including UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

Mr. Grayson received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his J.D. degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law.  He is the recipient of the Outstanding Civilian Service Award from the Secretary of the Army.

SFRC Clears Sullivan For Moscow, Other Ambassador Nominations, Foreign Service Lists

 

On November 20, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared fourteen ambassador nominations, and a few nominations for State, USAID and IADB. The panel also cleared two FS lists. The nominations will now wait for their full Senate vote.
AMBASSADORS
Ms. Roxanne Cabral, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Marshall Islands
Ms. Carmen G. Cantor, of Puerto Rico, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federated States of Micronesia
Ms. Kelly C. Degnan, of California, a Career-Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Georgia
Mr. Michael George DeSombre, of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Thailand
Mr. David T. Fischer, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Morocco
Mr. Robert S. Gilchrist, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Lithuania
Mr. Peter M. Haymond, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Ms. Yuri Kim, of Guam, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Albania
Ms. Alina L. Romanowski, of Illinois, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Kuwait
Ms. Leslie Meredith Tsou, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Sultanate of Oman
The Honorable John Joseph Sullivan, of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Russian Federation
Ms. Leslie Meredith Tsou, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Sultanate of Oman
STATE DEPARTMENT
The Honorable Kelley Eckels Currie, of Georgia, to be Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues
Mr. Morse H. Tan, of Illinois, to be Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice
USAID
Ms. Alma L. Golden, of Texas, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development
IADB
Ms. Andeliz N. Castillo, of New York, to be United States Alternate Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank
FSO LIST: 
Derrick Scott Brown, et al., dated April 10, 2019 (PN 606-1)
Jay P. Williams, dated May 21, 2019 (PN 788-2)

WH Withdraws Doug Manchester’s Nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas

 

On November 13, the White House formally withdrew its nomination of San Diego Developer “Papa” Doug Manchester to be Ambassador to The Bahamaas.  The Nassau Guardian reported in late October that Mr. Manchester  “has stepped back from his bid to become the United States ambassador for The Bahamas.” The report said that when reached for comment, Manchester Financial Group wrote in a statement, “He has withdrawn due to the threats on his and his family’s lives including three infant children under four years old.”  The report also said: “It also noted that Manchester had received “severe” threats on his life.”
The report does not include details on who made these threats against the nominee and if there is an ongoing investigation concerning these threats.
In related news, the US Embassy in Nassau recently broke ground on a new U.S. Embassy in downtown Nassau.  The new  facility will reportedly “provide a secure, modern, and resilient platform for U.S. diplomacy in The Bahamas. Its central location will facilitate our partnership with the Bahamian government as well as support to U.S. citizens living and traveling here.”  The project is expected to be completed in 2023.

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SFRC Ranking Member Menendez Calls For OSC Hatch Act Review Into Pompeo’s Kansas Travel

 

 

On October 29, the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), sent a letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), requesting a review to determine whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has violated the Hatch Act, a federal law passed in 1939, which limits certain political activities of federal employees. According to OSC, the law’s purposes are “to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.”​​​​ ​​

I write to request an immediate review and assessment of the Secretary of State’s compliance with the Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326.
[..]
Since March 2019, the Secretary has taken three official trips to Kansas, apparently at the expense of the Department of State. During the latest trip, from October 24 to 25, 2019, the Secretary visited the Wichita State University Tech National Center for Aviation Training, participated in a workforce development roundtable, visited Textron Aviation Longitude and Latitude Production, and met with students from Wichita State University.  

In an interview, he refused to discuss matters related to Ukraine, insisting he was “here today to talk about workforce development. I came here today to talk about the great things that are going on here in Kansas.” The events in Kansas were aimed largely at promoting the President’s “Pledge to American Workers,” which has no discernible relation to the Department of State. According to The Wall Street Journal, he also “discussed the U.S. Senate race in Kansas” with Charles Koch, the head of Koch Industries, and former top contributor to his political campaigns, as well as backer of Pompeo’s prior business.  Textron Inc., the parent company of Textron Aviation, was also a major contributor to then-Congressman Pompeo’s political campaigns. 

For months, public reports have persisted that the Secretary was considering running for U.S. Senate in Kansas.  Many in Kansas perceive his appearances in the state to be a de facto campaign effort.  Indeed, an October 25, 2019 Kansas City Star editorial titled “Mike Pompeo, either quit and run for U.S. Senate in Kansas or focus on your day job,” seems to indicate his actions are already being construed as evidence of a possible candidacy by members of the press and the public in Kansas.  And following his trip, the Department of State’s official twitter handle posted a workforce and Kansas-centric video montage of the Secretary’s visit, which appears to have no nexus to the Department’s official work.    

Secretary Pompeo is not any federal employee. Rather, he is one of the most prominent members of the President’s cabinet. He appears frequently on TV and for interviews, and, as is true for many Secretaries of State, is known and recognized by the American public. Thus, it is even more crucial that he and the Department maintain a clear line between his actions as a federal employee and steward of the U.S. government, and any efforts that could be perceived as political in nature or laying the groundwork for potential campaign activity. I therefore ask that you review his travel and his interactions in Kansas closely, and determine whether any violations have occurred or additional guidance to the Department or the Secretary may be warranted.

The full letter is available to read here.