Peace Corps Writers
The Case Against the Nomination of Gaddi Vasquez
to be Peace Corps Director

NEW on the nomination:

Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Jack Hood Vaughn

Letter for the record from John Coyne

Statement for the record from Barbara Ferris

Statement for the record from Hugh Pickens

Letter to Sen. Dodd as follow-up to hearing

Coyne OpEd in The Hill

READ Judy Mann in the Post on the nomination

MORE on the nomination:

Some talking points on the nomination

A letter from Richard Lipez

Contact members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Committee for the Future of the Peace Corps urges the United States Senate to reject President Bush’s nomination of Mr. Gaddi Vasquez to be the next Director.

The record of Gaddi Vasquez:

  • Vasquez was disgraced as an Orange County, California, Supervisor after the county went bankrupt in December 1994. It had lost $1.7 billion, the largest governmental bankruptcy in US history. In a scathing report (January 24, 1996 - release 36761), the SEC concluded with this reprimand of the Board of Supervisors: “The Board members did not fulfill their obligations under the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.”
  • Vasquez resigned under pressure prior to a recall vote in 1996. California Govenor Pete Wilson expressed dismay and declared that the Orange Coounty Board of Supervisors has abdicated its leadership role. (LA Times, Aug 17, 1995.)
  • Vasquez opposed HIV training to country employees at the height of this epidemic.

The prior experience of Gaddi Vasquez:
Currently, Gaddi Vasquez heads the public affairs department for Southern California Edison Company. Previously, he served in several low-level roles in the administration of California Govenor George Deukmejian before becoming his deputy appointments secretary. In 1988, the governor appointed him to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
     In summary, his qualifications for the Peace Corp show:

  • No management experience running a large agency or institution.
  • No international experience.
  • No academic expertise in international relations or development.
  • No demonstrated ability at fiscal management.

The Los Angeles Times stated (8/20/2001):
“Vasquez proved to be a timid public official, the antithesis of what a Peace Corps Director should be . . . . The bankruptcy occurred on his watch, and he along with his colleagues had been asleep at the switch. That doesn’t inspire much confidence in his ability to lead in the international arena or run a large bureaucracy.”

The Peace Corps after September 11

  • More than ever, the Peace Corps needs a dynamic, qualified leader to deal with critical problems around the world:
    • In the dozens of Islamic nations, where Volunteers represent the face of America.
    • In dealing with HIV in Africa and Asia (where Volunteers are required to have training in HIV prevention.)
  • In the face of world terrorism, the 7,000 Peace Corps Volunteers in 71 countries will need inspired leadership at the top to deal with new challenges.

For these reason, former Peace Corps Directors Sargent Shriver (1962–66), a Democrat, and Jack Hood Vaughn, (1966–69), a Republican, oppose the Vasquez nomination.

   
  The Committee for the Future of the Peace Corps is a group of concerned Americans including former Peace Corps Directors, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, former Peace Corps Staff members, and foreign policy experts in the foreign affairs, public policy and public service arenas. For more information contact: Barbara Ferris at 202-530-0563 or John Coyne at 914-654-5281.
  The SEC Report and Gaddi Vasquez
— A Public Rebuke
In December 1994, Orange County revealed it had lost $1.7 billion dollars and filed for bankruptcy. It was the largest governmental bankruptcy in the history of the United States. The cause — a case of risky investment gone bad, and with no oversight by the Board of County Supervisors.
     The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) laid the responsibility for Orange County’s fiscal disaster directly at the feet of the Board of Supervisors. In its report of January 24, 1996 (Release 36761), the SEC stated, in part:

    Public officials have ultimate authority to approve the issuance of securities and related disclosure documents . . .  have responsibilities under the Federal securities laws as well. A public official may not authorize disclosure that the official knows to be false. Nor may an official authorize disclosure that may be misleading. When a public official has knowledge of facts bringing into question to issuers ability to repay the securities, it is reckless for that official to approve disclosure to investors without taking steps appropriate to prevent the dissemination of false or misleading information regarding facts. This would include questioning officials and becoming familiar with the documents.

The report concluded:

    The supervisors approved official statements that among other things, failed to disclose certain material information about Orange County’s financial condition that brought into question the County’s ability to repay it’s securities absent significant interest income from the County Pools (Pools were operated as an investment fund managed by Orange County in which the County invested.)
    . . . 

    Furthermore, the supervisors were aware of material information concerning Orange County’s financial condition that called into question the county’s ability to repay its securities. Nevertheless, the Supervisors failed to take appropriate steps to assure disclosure of these facts. The Board members did not fulfill their obligations under the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.

The Reaction to the Board’s Failure:

  • SEC Chairman Arthur Leavitt Jr. suggested that voters “throw out” any politicians who placed the public’s savings in such speculative investments. (LA Times12/29/94)
  • California Govenor Pete Wilson expressed dismay and declared that the Orange County Board of Supervisors has abdicated its leadership role. (LA Times, Aug 17, 1995.)
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