Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Officially In: Wendy R. Sherman as Under Secretary for Political Affairs ("P")

Revolving door sign in Syracuse, New YorkImage via WikipediaOn July 1, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Wendy R. Sherman as the next Under Secretary for Political Affairs. The WH released the following brief bio:

Wendy R. Sherman is the Vice Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and is also a member of the Investment Committee of Albright Capital Management.  Before becoming a founding member of The Albright Group in 2001, she served as Counselor for the State Department, while also serving as President Clinton’s Policy Coordinator on North Korea from 1997 to 2001.  Prior to her confirmation as Counselor, Ambassador Sherman was President and CEO of the Fannie Mae Foundation.  From 1993 to 1996, she was Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs under Secretary of State Warren Christopher.  In 2008, she was appointed by Congressional leaders to serve on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism.  Ambassador Sherman has served on the U.S. Defense Policy Board since 2009, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group.  

She attended Smith College and received a B.A. from Boston University and a Master’s degree from the University of Maryland.

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According to the Historian's Office, the Department of State by administrative action established the position of Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, after Congress authorized three Deputy Under Secretary positions in the State Department Reorganization Act of Aug 5, 1955 (P.L. 84-250; 69 Stat. 536). Prior to the creation of the position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in Aug 1959, the Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs assisted the Secretary and Under Secretary in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy.

After Aug 1959, the Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs served as a focal point for interdepartmental relations, especially those dealing with politico-military issues. During 1969, the Department discontinued the position and created a new Bureau for Politico-Military Affairs.

If confirmed, Ms. Sherman would succeed career diplomat William J. Burns, recently nominated to be Deputy Secretary of State (a position that usually goes to a political appointee). She would also be the first woman ever to incumber the "P" office at the State Department. 

OpenSecrets.org of the Center for Responsive Politics has listed Ms. Sherman in its "revolving door" profiles and explains: 
"Although the influence powerhouses that line Washington's K Street are just a few miles from the U.S. Capitol building, the most direct path between the two doesn't necessarily involve public transportation. Instead, it's through a door—a revolving door that shuffles former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists, consultants and strategists just as the door pulls former hired guns into government careers. While officials in the executive branch, Congress and senior congressional staffers spin in and out of the private and public sectors, so too does privilege, power, access and, of course, money."

In terms of  the number of "revolving door" people profiled by the OpenSecrets.org, the State Department ranks #10 with 199 individuals -- ahead of the Office of the Vice President but behind DOJ and way, way behind DOD.

Josh Rogin of The Cable notes that even before the official announcement of this nomination, "detractors in the Republican Party began a campaign to question her suitability for the post and her record both inside and out of government. Her confirmation hearing is sure to focus on her time dealing with Pyongyang, which is seen by her critics as a period of appeasement of the North Korean regime."

Also that "Senate offices are also planning to dig into Sherman's client base while she worked at Albright-Stonebridge."

It doesn't look like this would be a love feast over at the Senate. Still, I'm wondering who might show up to introduce her during the confirmation hearing ...

Related item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | July 1, 2011

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