November 15 - Statement by the NPCA on the Gaddi Vasquez hearings

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By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 7:43 pm: Edit Post

Yesterday, Wednesday, November 14, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, subcommittee chaired by Senator Christopher Dodd, held its hearing on the Administration nominee for Peace Corps Director, Gaddi Vasquez. Both supporters and opponents made strong presentations.

The Senate may take action after Thanksgiving break, date as yet unknown.

Ed Crane, Advocacy Coordinator

By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 4:52 pm: Edit Post

Here is a statement dated November 16 from the President of the NPCA to the NPCA Board of Directors on the status of the Gaddi Vasquez nomination that provides insight into the NPCA decision making process. This email has already received wide circulation within the RPCV community:

Subject: Nomination of Gaddi Vasquez as Peace Corps Director

Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2001 17:07:27 -0500

On November 14, Dane, along with David Arnold and Advocacy Coordinator Ed Crane, attended the hearing for Gaddi Vasquez and Jody Olsen, nominees respectively for Director and Deputy Director of the Peace Corps. The hearing was chaired by Sen. Chris Dodd (Dominican Republic), as Chair of the Subcommittee on Latin America, Peace Corps and Narcotics. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA-Orange County) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-Orange County) spoke on behalf of Vasquez, with Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) cited as also being in support. Sen. Hatch (R-Ut) spoke for Jody, but also mentioned his support for Vasquez. After these statements, statements by the nominees and questions from Dodd, Sen. Sarbanes and Sen. Lincoln Chaffee (Ranking Minority), the nominees were dismissed, and Jack Hood Vaughn, representing "The Committee on the Future of the Peace Corps" and flanked by John Coyne and Barb Ferris, spoke scathingly against Vasquez, whom he described as "a rank amateur."

In my judgment it was a rather thorough hearing. Sarbanes asked detailed and skeptical questions about Vasquez's tenure as an Orange County Supervisor. Dodd raised questions about Vasquez's lack of international experience and his vote on the Orange County Board of Supervisors related to benefits for AIDS victims, an issue raised by our LGB group. (Vasquez responded that he voted against because the benefits were already covered by federal and state law and said he had offered to go to Sacramento with the gay groups promoting the measure to lobby for more extensive benefits to be covered by state law.) In response to a Dodd question, Vasquez said that he viewed RPCVs as an enormous asset and intended to listen to them and work with them. Jody Olsen's statement and responses to questions were well done and very well received.

The final vote by the Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate is not expected to take place before Thanksgiving. I believe that Vasquez will be confirmed. The line up of both Democrats and Republicans from California is a clear sign here. Dodd also has indicated that we would not oppose the nomination. I believe that the remonstrations about the nominee by individual RPCVs and the campaign by Coyne/Ferris did help to make the hearing a more careful examination of Vasquez's credentials. There is, of course, enthusiastic support on all sides for Jody.

Essentials of the NPCA position:It has been charged by some that we have been silent on Vasquez. That is not the case. For your information, as needed, the essentials of our position, which we have put on our website ( and in messages on our various listservs, are as follows:

1. We wrote the Administration in January (Dane Smith, Executive Director) and February (Dick Pyle, Board President),urging that an RPCV or former staff member be selected. We expressed disappointment when that was not done. (I was quoted to that effect in the Washington Post in July.)

2. On September 12 we posted our position on our website and put it out on our various listservs:

-urging that Vasquez meet informally with members of the Peace Corps family to present the merits of his candidacy. (He was expecting to come to the NPCA Conference September 20-23 for informal interchange before it was postponed.) asking members of the Peace Corps community to give him a fair hearing (keeping in mind that some other nominees who turned out ok did not appear to have much in the way of credentials -- e.g. Loret Ruppe);

encouraging our members and RPCVs generally to express their views on the nomination, especially to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee;

urging that the Deputy be selected from RPCV ranks, as well as a heavy proportion of senior staff; (The announcement of intent to nominate Jody Olsen (Tunisia) as Deputy came shortly afterward, but had been in the works for quite a while.) indicating we would work with Vasquez if confirmed.

3. On September 21 the Presidents' Forum met after the Board meeting (with a quorum and in fact a surprising number of groups represented) and debated at length a resolution to oppose Vasquez. One cloture vote to end debate failed, but eventually the PF voted it down the resolution to oppose rather decisively. That decision set the position of the NPCA.

4. At the end of October there was considerable uncertainty about whether a hearing for Vasquez was going to take place at all in 2001. On November 2, I faxed letters both to President Bush and Senate Foreign Relations Chair Biden urging that the utmost effort be made to schedule a hearing for Vasquez before the Thanksgiving recess, stressing the damage to the Peace Corps from this terribly dilatory nomination and confirmation process. One element of that appeal was an exhortation that the Administration avoid recourse to a recess appointment, which would mean that this controversial nominee's credentials would not be publicly examined. I urged that if a hearing could not be arranged this fall that the nomination be withdrawn in favor of someone who would gain prompt and enthusiastic confirmation. We were very pleased that the hearing was then scheduled.

5. Before the hearing the NPCA provided a set of suggested questions (probing inter alia his lack of international experience and his vision for the Peace Corps) to both Senator Dodd and Senator Sarbanes to be posed to Mr. Vasquez.

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, November 30, 2001 - 2:37 pm: Edit Post


As of Friday, November 30, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reports that it is holding off on scheduling a meeting to forward the Vasquez nomination to the Senate, until it is ready to do all the pending nominations. Therefore this meeting could occur not next week as originally anticipated, but the following week of December 10-14.

Ed Crane, NPCA Advocacy Coordinator

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