|33rd United States Ambassador to Belgium|
August 14, 2009 – July 23, 2013
|Preceded by||Wayne Bush|
|Succeeded by||Denise Bauer|
July 8, 1956 |
Bronx, New York City, New York, USA
|Occupation||Ambassador, actor, attorney|
Howard William Gutman (born July 8, 1956) is a lawyer, actor and former United States Ambassador to Belgium. After being nominated as Ambassador by United States President Barack Obama, Gutman was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 29, 2009 and sworn in as Ambassador on August 14, 2009.
Early life and education
Gutman is the son of Polish immigrant and Holocaust survivor Max Gutman, who worked in New York’s garment district. He attended public elementary schools and then the Bronx High School of Science in New York. Gutman is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University (1977) and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School (1980).
Gutman clerked for Judge Irving Loeb Goldberg on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1980–1981). After that, he joined the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He left the firm to clerk for Justice Potter Stewart on the United States Supreme Court.
After clerking, in 1982, Gutman joined the Washington D.C. law firm of Williams & Connolly LLP. He left the firm in 1985 to become Special Assistant to F.B.I. Director William H. Webster, focusing on counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism. Gutman rejoined Williams & Connolly in 1986, and in 1988, Gutman became a partner at the firm, where he focused on commercial litigation, including securities, contracts, antitrust, labor, banking, real estate, intellectual property, insurance coverage, international law, and partnership disputes.
Gutman represented a wide variety of clients during his 25-year career, including acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and many states’ attorneys general in suits against Microsoft Corporation. Gutman also once represented Susan Rosenberg, a former member of the Weather Underground accused, but never indicted or convicted, in the 1981 Brinks robbery in post-conviction, constitutional litigation. Gutman also provided representation to Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, a former Bolivian president, and José Carlos Sánchez Berzain, a defense minister, who were sued in American courts by Bolivians following an attempted coup in Bolivia. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently dismissed the case against Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzain.
Ambassadorship to Belgium
Gutman has been dubbed by one Belgian newspaper as “the most popular ambassador ever in Belgium” and is the second longest serving U.S. Ambassador to Belgium in the last 35 years. The Flemish municipality of Buggenhout erected a monument marking the Ambassador’s visit to the municipality. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) placed Gutman’s speech on Memorial Day at Flanders Field into the Congressional Record. Among his 100+ television appearances in Belgium, Gutman was chosen to present the final award at the Belgian Music Industry Awards. On September 7, 2011, Le Soir, a leading Belgian newspaper, ran a major profile entitled: “The Ambassador Who Makes Us Love America Again.” Noting the change in Belgian-American relations, one Belgian newspaper stated that "there is no doubt that [Ambassador Gutman] would be elected if he were to run at a [Belgian] election."
He also had the goal of visiting each of the 589 municipalities in Belgium. His intention was not only to visit managers and politicians, but also ordinary citizens and employees. On May 5, 2013 he completed his tour when he visited the last municipality on his list, Voeren. Gutman will leave his post as ambassador on July 23, 2013.
Speaking at a legal conference on antisemitism organized by the European Jewish Union on November 30, 2011, Gutman talked about historic antisemitism, as well as a trend he described as "a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension...in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem". He added that "an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism." The comments were quoted by a number of news outlets based on an initial account from newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, after which Gutman received high-profile criticism from a number of rival politicians, including Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Gutman issued a statement saying "I deeply regret if my comments were taken the wrong way", highlighting his history of condemning and combating anti-semitism, and making reference to his background as the son of a Holocaust survivor.
Sexual misconduct scandal
A State Department whistleblower found that an Inspector General's report accused Gutman of soliciting prostitutes and minors for sex while serving as Ambassador, but that Undersecretary of State Patrick F. Kennedy ordered it removed from the report. Gutman denies the accusations as "baseless" and the State Department adamantly denied that any allegations of questionable or illegal behavior by diplomats have been covered up, and that any proven wrongdoing would be punished administratively or prosecuted criminally. On June 11, 2013, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that the allegations were under active investigation by an independent inspector general. On June 21, 2013, the White House announced Denise Bauer as the new nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Belgium.
Relationship to the Democratic Party and Obama administration
Gutman has long been active in Democratic politics, working on policy issues, speech writing, constituency work, legal representation, and media. He also has helped raise money for Democratic presidential, gubernatorial, and congressional candidates, including Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000. Gutman served on the legal team representing Gore in the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore.
According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2008, Gutman was part of the Obama National Finance Committee and later a trustee on the Presidential Inauguration Committee. Gutman and his wife, Michelle Loewinger, have contributed at least $86,150 to Democratic candidates, parties and committees since 1989. Gutman contributed the legal maximum of $2300 to Bill Clinton’s presidential bid. Both he and his wife contributed the legal maximum of $4600 a piece to Obama’s presidential run. Gutman bundled at least half a million for Obama’s campaign committee and another $275,000 for his inauguration.
Media appearances and popular culture
Among the media work Gutman performed during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, Gutman was a frequent contributor to Fox News. Gutman also acted in several episodes of the HBO series K Street, the Tim Robbins’ film Noise and the 2009 film Fame.
- Brinkerhoff, Noel. "Ambassador to Belgium: Who is Howard Gutman?". AllGov.com. Retrieved 2009-10-12.
- "Biography:Howard W. Gutman". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2009-10-12.
- "Dr. Loewinger Is Bride Of Howard W. Gutman". New York Times. October 4, 1981. Retrieved 2009-10-12.
- "Eleventh Circuit Dismisses ATS Suit Against Senior Bolivian Officials". InterAmerican Security Watch. September 2, 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
- Hans Vandeweghe (December 23, 2010). "Belgium is a Strong Brand". Het Nieuwsblad.
- "Lessons from Belgium’s Favorite American Ambassador". The Politic. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- United States Congress (June 7, 2011). "Congressional Record".
- Le Soir Magazine (September 7, 2011). Missing or empty
- La Libre http://www.lalibre.be/archives/divers/article/782237/howard-gutman.html
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 16 December 2012.
- "Gutman beëindigt Belgische tournee". De Standaard. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- Menachem Gantz (December 3, 2011). "'Jew-hate stems from conflict'". YnetNews. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
- "Quote on Anti-Semitism Misattributed to U.S. Ambassador Doesn't Ease Criticism". FoxNews.com. December 6, 2011.
- U.S. Embassy Brussels. "Press Release". Statement by Ambassador Howard Gutman.
- Miller, S.A. (June 11, 2013). "Hillary’s sorry state of affairs; Probes into her department’s sex scandals were quashed, memo says". NYPost.com.
- "U.S. ambassador Howard Gutman slams park prostitution allegations". New York: nydailynews.com. June 11, 2013.
- Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 6/11/2013 | The White House
- New U.S. Amb. to Belgium Announced After Accusations of Soliciting Underage Prostitutes | The Weekly Standard
- Miller, S.A. "Officials at Hillary Clinton’s State Dept. accused of covering up sexual misconduct - NYPOST.com". New York Post.
- Michael Beckel (June 18, 2009). "Obama's New Ambassador Nominees Gave Big -- and Bundled Bigger". Open Secrets.
- "Howard Gutman". IMDB. Retrieved 2009-10-12.
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