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Another Obama Ambassador Failure

- August 13, 2012

Obama Appointee Scott Gration Was "Divisive And Ineffective" As Ambassador To Kenya

A "Scathing Report" From The State Department Listed Former Ambassador To Kenya Scott Gration "Dead Last Among Dozens Of Ambassadors Reviewed In Recent Years." "The State Department inspector general's office released its scathing report on the leadership of former ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration Friday, saying that Gration ranked dead last among dozens of ambassadors reviewed in recent years. Gration resigned suddenly June 29 after viewing the report, but he did not offer a written response to the report released today." (Josh Rogin, "Close Obama Ally Rated Worst Ambassador In The State Department," Foreign Policy 's "The Cable" , 8/10/12)

  • The Report Called Gration "Divisive And Ineffective," Ranking Him At The Bottom For Interpersonal Relations, Managerial Skill And Attention To Morale. "The Ambassador has lost the respect and confidence of the staff to lead the mission," read the report. 'Of more than 80 chiefs of mission inspected in recent cycles, the Ambassador ranked last for interpersonal relations, next to last on both managerial skill and attention to morale, and third from last in his overall scores from surveys of mission members. The inspectors found no reason to question these assessments; the Ambassador's leadership to date has been divisive and ineffective.'" (Josh Rogin, "Close Obama Ally Rated Worst Ambassador In The State Department," Foreign Policy 's "The Cable" , 8/10/12)
  • The Report Found That Under Gration, The Embassy In Nairobi Was In Danger Of Becoming "Dysfunctional." "'The Ambassador has damaged the cohesion of Embassy Nairobi's country team by underscoring differences between offices working directly with Kenya and those with regional responsibilities. Country team members, particularly those from other agencies, relied on the recently departed deputy chief of mission to maintain a sense of common purpose at Embassy Nairobi. Unless corrected there is a risk that the country team will become dysfunctional,' the report stated." (Josh Rogin, "Close Obama Ally Rated Worst Ambassador In The State Department," Foreign Policy 's "The Cable" , 8/10/12)
  • Inspector General: "Gration Refused To Meet With Most Prominent Kenyans, Journalists, And Even His Senior Embassy Staff." "The IG reported that Gration refused to meet with most prominent Kenyans, journalists, and even his senior embassy staff, who would try unsuccessfully for months to get in touch with him." (Josh Rogin, "Close Obama Ally Rated Worst Ambassador In The State Department," Foreign Policy 's "The Cable" , 8/10/12)

Gration Previously Served As Special Envoy To Sudan, Where He Suggested "Gold Stars" And Cookies As Incentives For Cooperation On Darfur

Gration, An Early Obama Supporter And Active Campaigner, Was One Of Obama's "Top Three National Security Advisors" And Also Served A "Controversial Two-Year Stint" As Special Envoy To Sudan. "Gration, a retired Air Force general, was one of the first senior military figures to openly support and actively campaign for President Barack Obama in 2007 and was embraced by the team that would eventually form the president's closest national security inner circle. Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough once described Gration as one of the top three national security advisors to Obama, along with former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill McPeak. He was rumored during the transition to be a candidate to lead NASA. He took over as ambassador to Kenya in February 2011 following a controversial two-year stint as Obama's special envoy for Sudan." (Josh Rogin, "Close Obama Ally Rated Worst Ambassador In The State Department," Foreign Policy 's "The Cable" , 8/10/12)

  • Gration "Attempted To Win Khartoum's Cooperation By Offering Incentives," Ignoring Obama's Campaign Promise To Confront Sudan Over Darfur And Other Human Rights Violations. "But once Obama became president, the Darfur crisis appeared to fade in importance. Rather than confront the Sudanese government, as candidate Obama suggested he would do, the administration's special envoy for Sudan, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, attempted to win Khartoum's cooperation by offering incentives." (Glenn Kessler, "Libya, Obama And The Tragedy In Darfur," The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" , 3/24/11)
  • Special Envoy To Sudan Scott Gration: "We've got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries - they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement." (Glenn Kessler, "Libya, Obama And The Tragedy In Darfur," The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" , 3/24/11)

Nothing New: Obama Has Picked Problematic Ambassadors

BAHAMAS: A State Department Inspector General's Report Shows That Bahamas Ambassador Nicole Avant Brought "Dysfunctional Leadership And Management" To The Embassy Since Her Appointment. "According to a new State Department inspector general's report on the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas, Ambassador Nicole Avant presided over 'an extended period of dysfunctional leadership and mismanagement, which has caused problems throughout the embassy' since she was appointed by the president in 2009." (Josh Rogin, "Another Obama Fundraiser Turns Out To Be A Bad Ambassador,"Foreign Policy , 2/23/12)

  • Prior To Her Ambassadorship, Avant Was A Fundraiser For Obama's 2008 Campaign And A Music Executive. "Prior to being America's envoy in the Caribbean, Avant was Southern California finance co-chairwoman of Obama's presidential campaign and vice president of Interior Music Publishing." (Josh Rogin, "Another Obama Fundraiser Turns Out To Be A Bad Ambassador,"Foreign Policy , 2/23/12)
  • Avant Was "Away From The Embassy An Inordinate Amount Of Time… And When She Was In Town, She Worked From Her Residence Most Of The Day." "But according to the State Department's internal investigation, Avant was away from the embassy an inordinate amount of time -- mainly shuttling back and forth to her home in Los Angeles -- and when she was in town, she worked from her residence most of the day." (Josh Rogin, "Another Obama Fundraiser Turns Out To Be A Bad Ambassador,"Foreign Policy , 2/23/12)
  • Avant Was Absent From The Embassy 276 Days Between September 2009 And November 2011, Including 102 "Personal" Days . "Avant was absent from the embassy 276 days between September 2009 and November 2011, including 102 'personal' days and 77 'work travel' days to the United States, of which only 23 were on official orders." (Josh Rogin, "Another Obama Fundraiser Turns Out To Be A Bad Ambassador,"Foreign Policy , 2/23/12)
  • Avant Spent 40 Percent Of Her Time As Ambassador To The Bahamas Out Of The Country. "The inspector general wrote that her tenure was part of 'an extended period of dysfunctional leadership and mismanagement, which has caused problems throughout the embassy.' The report said Avant spent roughly 40 percent of her time out of the country over a two-year period." (T.W. Farnum, "The Influence Industry: Obama Gives Administration Jobs To Some Big Fundraisers," The Washington Post , 3/7/12)
  • Avant Said Her Travel Was Not "Out Of Line." "In an interview, Avant said that she inherited an embassy with management problems and that her travel was not out of line." (T.W. Farnum, "The Influence Industry: Obama Gives Administration Jobs To Some Big Fundraisers," The Washington Post , 3/7/12)
  • "'Part Of My Job As A U.S. Ambassador Was To Travel,' She Said. Avant Is Now Helping The Obama Campaign Raise Money From Donors In Hollywood." (T.W. Farnum, "The Influence Industry: Obama Gives Administration Jobs To Some Big Fundraisers," The Washington Post , 3/7/12)

LUXEMBOURG: Obama Bundler Cynthia Stroum, Who Raised At Least $500,000 For The President, Was Appointed Ambassador Of Luxembourg And Was Criticized By The Inspector General For Her Conduct . "Luxembourg Ambassador Cynthia Stroum, a Seattle venture capitalist who raised $500,000 for Obama, was also criticized in an inspector general's report, which said she sent her staff on a house-hunting mission, billed the government for bedding after being told she couldn't and was 'keenly interested' in the materials used for remodeling two bathrooms in her residence." (T.W. Farnum, "The Influence Industry: Obama Gives Administration Jobs To Some Big Fundraisers," The Washington Post , 3/7/12)

  • "'Most Employees Describe The Ambassador As Aggressive, Bullying, Hostile, And Intimidating,' Inspectors Wrote Of Stroum." (T.W. Farnum, "The Influence Industry: Obama Gives Administration Jobs To Some Big Fundraisers," The Washington Post , 3/7/12)

NETHERLANDS: In April 2012, Obama Nominated Top-Tier Bundler And D.C. Lawyer Timothy Broas To Be U.S. Ambassador To The Netherlands. "Timothy Broas, a top fundraiser for President Barack Obama, is now the nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands. Broas, a partner at the D.C. law firm Winston and Strawn, has raised more than $500,000 for Obama's re-election efforts as a bundler, meaning he has been credited for raising money from friends, family or business associates." (Michael Beckel, "Bundler Timothy Broas Tapped For Netherlands Ambassadorship," iWatch News, 4/26/12)

  • Broas Has Bundled Over $500,000 For Obama's Reelection Campaign. (Obama Volunteer Fundraisers, Accessed 8/13/12)
  • In June 2012, Obama Had To Withdraw Broas' Nomination After He Was Arrested For Drunk Driving And Resisting Arrest . "The White House has withdrawn the nomination of Washington attorney Timothy M. Broas - a top Obama campaign fundraiser - as ambassador to the Netherlands following charges of drunk driving and resisting arrest in suburban Maryland earlier last week. Court records show that Broas, 58, was pulled over by police on June 19 at 1:18 AM on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase and charged with 'attempting to drive [a] vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.' He was ticketed for driving 47 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone. He also faces a criminal charge of resisting arrest, according to Montgomery County District Court records. The White House announcement was made Thursday night." (Fred Schulte and Michael Beckel, "Attorney Was Nominated For Post In Netherlands,"iWatch News, 6/26/12)
  • "Broas 'Withdrew His Nomination For Personal Reasons,' Said Debra Reed, A Spokeswoman. 'That's The Extent Of What We'll Say About That.'" (Fred Schulte and Michael Beckel, "Attorney Was Nominated For Post In Netherlands," iWatch News, 6/26/12)

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