Nominee: Former Senator Tom Udall to be Ambassador to New Zealand and to the Independent State of Samoa

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President Biden announced his intent to nominate former NM Democratic Senator Tom Udall to be the next Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. The WH released the following brief bio:

Tom Udall, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to New Zealand and to the Independent State of Samoa

Tom Udall has a long and distinguished career in public service.  He most recently served two terms as United States Senator from New Mexico (2009-2021) and served five terms as United States Representative from New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District (1999-2009).  While in office, Udall was a notable champion for the environment, for Native Americans, for government and election reform and for resolving international disputes peacefully, if possible.  Earlier in his career, Udall was elected twice as Attorney General of New Mexico (1991-1999) and also served as an Assistant United States Attorney.  His Senate Committee assignments included the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the Committee on Indian Affairs, the Committee on Rules and Administration, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the International Narcotics Control Caucus.  Udall has a B.A. degree from Prescott College, a Bachelor of Law from Cambridge University, and a J.D. from the University of New Mexico.

As pointed out elsewhere, there are now three former senators nominated for ambassadorships: Udall, Flake, and Salazar.
When confirmed, Senator Udall would succeed former Senator Scott P. Brown who served from 2017-2021. Since the 1960s, we could only identify three career diplomats appointed as chief of mission to New Zealand:

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@USAmbNZ Scott Brown Gets Ahead of Bad News Over “Insensitive” Comments Probe

Posted: 12:31 am ET
Updated: Oct 27 | 12:44 am ET
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Stuff New Zealand reported on October 26 that the US ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown faced complaints over ‘cultural misunderstanding.’

US Ambassador Scott Brown has fronted over mounting “innuendo and rumour” about a State Department investigation into his behaviour. Speaking to Stuff with wife Gail Huff at his side, Brown confirmed there had been an official “administrative inquiry” into his conduct at a Peace Corps event in Samoa in July.

It is not clear if the inquiry is conducted by HR, EEOC or OIG (we’ve asked but have not received a response) but whatever it is, talking to the local media, bound to be picked up by U.S. news media, is a calculated way to get ahead of the potential fallout from a probe that has not been publicly known until now.

We hope he’s learned his lesson that he’s not just some ex-politician from New Hampshire or Massachusetts anymore. He speaks for the United States at all times now until he steps down; and as with career folks who are considered on duty 24/7, the ambassador no longer has the luxury of personal views, only official ones. For Exhibit A, see @StateDept: Ambassador Friedman’s comment “does not represent a shift in U.S. policy”; for Exhibit B, see @StateDept on Amb. Friedman’s comment (again): “should not be read as a change in U.S. policy”.

Below is the official response from the State Department: 

The State Department takes allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate them thoroughly. We hold all employees to the highest standard. The Office of Inspector General has conducted an independent review of the allegations and reported its findings to the Department. Senior leadership at the State Department has been in contact with Ambassador Brown and he has been counseled on standards of conduct for government employees, which also includes Ambassadors.

So hey, while we’re on the subject of “insensitive” or “inappropriate” comments, say…we’ve posted about this and more related to Diplomatic Security. Has anyone sent in investigators over there to see about Special Agent Sticky Balls and what he’s up these days?

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Ambassador Scott Brown Assumes Charge at U.S. Mission New Zealand

Posted: 3:33 am ET
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Former U.S. Senator Scott Brown was officially nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa in April. His nomination was cleared by the SFRC on May 25. A couple of weeks later, he was confirmed by the full Senate. On June 15, he was sworn-in by the new Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. This is probably one of the few nominations that went through the process in less than three months. Ambassador Brown arrived in Wellington over the weekend and has now assumed charge of U.S. Mission New Zealand.

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