Tom Schieffer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Tom Schieffer
Schieffer.jpg
United States Ambassador to Japan
In office
April 11, 2005 – January 20, 2009
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Howard Baker
Succeeded by John Roos
United States Ambassador to Australia
In office
2001–2005
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Edward Gnehm
Succeeded by Robert McCallum, Jr.
Personal details
Born John Thomas Schieffer
(1947-10-04) October 4, 1947 (age 66)
Fort Worth, Texas
Political party Democratic Party

John Thomas "Tom" Schieffer (born October 4, 1947) is an American diplomat who served as U.S. Ambassador to Australia from 2001 to 2005 and as U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2005 to 2009. Schieffer is a friend and former business partner of President George W. Bush. He is the younger brother of Bob Schieffer, a CBS News reporter and host of Face the Nation.

Early life and Education[edit]

John Thomas (Tom) Schieffer was born in Fort Worth, the youngest child of the late John E. Schieffer and the former Gladys Payne, both originally from Austin. His father was the managing partner of a construction company. His mother stayed home to rear the children.

In addition to his brother, Bob, Schieffer has a sister, Sharon Schieffer Mayes. She is a retired teacher and school administrator who taught science for seventeen years before becoming the vice principal of Dunbar High School in Fort Worth. Sharon Mayes eventually became the high school principal at Keller High School at a time when only 2 percent of the principals in Texas' largest high schools were women. She also had a successful career as an Administrator in the Keller Independent School District.

He grew up in Fort Worth attending public schools, and graduated from Arlington Heights High School in 1966. Schieffer attended the University of Texas at Austin, receiving a B.A. degree in 1970, having majored in government and minored in history, and a masters degree in international relations in 1972. His master's thesis was entitled, "An Examination of the Nuclear Weapons Debate in India." The thesis correctly predicted that India would explode a nuclear device in 1974 and pursue the acquisition of nuclear weapons as the result of the security threat presented by China.

Early political career[edit]

While in college he worked in the offices of State Senator Don Kennard and Governor John Connally.

Schieffer ran in the 1972 Democratic primary against incumbent Speaker Pro-Tem Tommy Shannon, who was involved in the Sharpstown scandal. After leading the primary and winning the run-off, Schieffer was nominated by Democrats to run at age 24. He won the general election that fall running county wide with more than 60% of the vote when the Democratic Presidential candidate received just over 30% of the county wide vote. Sworn in at age 25, Schieffer was one of the youngest members of the class of '72. Because of the scandal, 77 of the 150 House members were freshman that year. Kay Bailey Hutchison and her husband Ray were both members of that freshman class as well as Democratic State Representative Senfronia Thompson, Democratic State Senator John Whitmire, former House Speaker Pete Laney, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Congressman Gene Green. Federal Judge James R. Nowlin was also a member of that class along with a number of other prominent Texans.

The first piece of legislation Schieffer passed was a bill renaming the State Finance Building the Lyndon B. Johnson State Office Building. Johnson, whom Schieffer admired greatly for passing the landmark civil rights bills of '64, '65 and '68 had died in January 1973. During his first session, Schieffer successfully argued for funding the Fort Worth State School - a mental health facility - receiving the editorial kudos of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for having "earned his spurs" as an effective legislator in Austin.

Re-elected with over 60% of the vote in the 1974 general election (he had no opposition in the Democratic primary) Schieffer was named Chairman of the Local and Consent Calendars Committee in his second term, a position he retained in his third term as well. Schieffer was the lead author on the bill that established the first Presidential primary in Texas. He was also the lead author on the bill that restricted the catch of redfish along the Texas coast, a measure that conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts had sought for years. Schieffer also co-authored legislation that closed the loophole on child care facilities that wanted to operate without meeting state child care facility standards.

The first two terms Tom Schieffer was in the legislature, Tarrant County state representatives were elected countywide. Before his third term the Legislature passed a single member district plan and he was re-elected in that district. In January 1978 a federal court overturned the existing single member district plan and redrew the lines. Schieffer, who retained only one precinct out of his old district, carried every precinct in the Democratic primary against the wife of the incumbent Fort Worth mayor. That fall, however, he lost his seat to Republican Bob Ware.

He belonged to the conservative wing of the Texas Democratic Party associated with Connally and Senator Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. He was the Fort Worth area co-ordinator for Democratic Governor Mark Wells White's election campaigns.

Legal career[edit]

Schieffer, who had earlier begun taking courses at The University of Texas law school, returned to school and his course work. At that time, Texas law allowed legislators who had served three terms to take the State Bar exam a year early if they had taken two years of course work at an accredited law school. Schieffer completed his two years of course work at The University of Texas at Austin and passed the state bar exam. He was admitted to the practice of law on October 31, 1979, and became a corporate lawyer in Fort Worth, specializing in the oil and gas industry.

Civic and Political Experiences[edit]

Schieffer remained active in political affairs. He was a member of Senator Lloyd Bentsen's Committee of 50 and worked in several of the Senator's campaigns, including his Vice Presidential campaign in 1988. Schieffer also had a long association with Governor Mark White, for whom he served as Tarrant County Coordinator for two of his gubernatorial campaigns. Schieffer served as Finance Chairman for Congressman Pete Geren's successful election to Congress.

In civic matters Schieffer was appointed a Trustee of the Tarrant County Junior College (now Tarrant County College) and was elected to a full term without opposition. Schieffer served as a board member of the Texas Commerce Bank in Fort Worth and as an advisory board member to the bank when it was later acquired by JP Morgan-Chase.

In addition, Schieffer has served on the board of Drew Industries, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Always interested in educational issues, Schieffer has served on the boards of Winston School in Dallas, the Tarrant County Community College Foundation, the Dallas County Community College Foundation, and the Penrose Foundation, which primarily provides college scholarships for Hispanic students. Schieffer also served on the Texas Rangers Foundation Board and was active with his wife Susanne in Habitat for Humanity, the Food Bank of Tarrant County and the Dallas Can Academy.

Involvement in Dallas - Ft. Worth Area[edit]

Schieffer’s civic and charitable interests have focused on politics, education and youth activities. He was the Tarrant County Coordinator for Governor White, the Finance Chairman for U.S. Representative Pete Geren and active for many years in the campaigns of Senator Bentsen. In 1987, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Tarrant County Junior College, a publicly elected Board and was elected without opposition in 1988. Over the years, Schieffer has served on numerous charitable and civic Boards and has received numerous civic and humanitarian awards.

In 1989, Schieffer became a partner of George W. Bush and Edward W. Rose in Ballpark Development, the company that bought the Texas Rangers baseball club. He served as team President for eight years, responsible for the operations of the company as well as the building of The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. By the time Bush was elected Republican Governor of Texas in 1994, Schieffer was identified as a political supporter.

The partnership sold the team in June 1998, but Schieffer stayed on until April 1999, when he resigned to become a consultant. He continued to lead the J. Thomas Schieffer Management Company, which he headed until he was nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Australia by the incoming Bush Administration in 2001. He also served on the boards of the Penrose Foundation, the Dallas County Community College Foundation, the Tarrant County College Foundation and the Winston School. He was also a member of the executive committee of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce where he co-chaired the Legislative Affairs Committee.

Texas Rangers Baseball Club[edit]

Schieffer's success in his law practice and business career allowed him to join an investment group, led by George W. Bush and Edward W. (Rusty) Rose that bought the Texas Rangers Baseball Club on April 21, 1989. Having begun as only an investor in the group, Bush and Rose asked Schieffer to be the Partner-In-Charge of Ballpark Development in July 1990. Schieffer toured ballparks around America and successfully negotiated a public-private partnership with the City of Arlington, which became a model for cooperation between cities and private entities in development projects. The Rangers and the City of Arlington announced the deal in October 1990. An election was held in January 1991, which sought the approval of Arlington voters. More people voted in that special election than had voted in the combined Democratic and Republican primaries the year before. The citizens of Arlington approved the agreement by a 65% - 35% margin. The turnout remains the largest in Arlington's history for a special election.

The Ballpark in Arlington was opened in 1994 to strong reviews from fans inside and outside of Arlington. Built on time and on budget, The Ballpark in Arlington was nicknamed the Temple by one sports talk show host because it was such a shrine to baseball.

After passage of the referendum in January 1991, Schieffer was named President of the Rangers and served in that position longer than any other individual has done. When George W. Bush became Governor in 1995, Schieffer was named to succeed Bush as the team's General Partner along with Rusty Rose. The franchise won the division title in 1996 for the first time and then again in 1998 and 1999.

The Bush-Rose partnership sold the franchise in 1998 to Dallas investor Tom Hicks. Under the terms of the sale, Schieffer was required to stay as President of the Club for an additional year. Schieffer resigned as President of the Rangers in April 1999.

While Schieffer was President of the Rangers he also served as President of the J. Thomas Schieffer Management Company and the Pablo Operating Company, two entities that managed investments and oil and gas properties for clients.

Ambassador of the United States to Australia[edit]

In April 2001, President Bush asked Tom Schieffer to become the Ambassador of the United States to Australia. He accepted and presented his credentials in Canberra on August 23, 2001 as the 22nd representative of the U.S. president, 63 years after the first, Clarence E. Gauss, a professional diplomat from Connecticut, presented his credentials to Australia's governor-general of the time, Lord Gowrie, on January 12, 1940. The two previous Ambassadors had been career officers with long-term diplomatic expertise, both former Directors-General of the U.S. Foreign Service, although it has been noted that Australian governments sometimes value a U.S. Ambassador's personal links to the President currently in office.

Returning to America to attend the first summit between Prime Minister John Howard and President Bush on September 10, 2001, Schieffer was in Washington on September 11, 2001 when the awful events of the day unfolded. Returning to Australia on September 12 with the Prime Minister on board Air Force Two, Schieffer and the White House worked with the Prime Minister and the Australian government to invoke the ANZUS treaty for the first time in its 50 year history so that Australia could come to the aid of the United States as a result of the terrorists' attack. Subsequently, Schieffer attended five more summits with the President and Australian Prime Minister in the next three and a half years as Australia raised its hand to help America in Afghanistan and Iraq.

During his tenure in Canberra, he coordinated closely with the Government of Australia on efforts to fight global terrorism and helped to deepen cooperation on rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

During Schieffer's tenure in Australia, the United States also negotiated a Free-Trade Agreement with Australia and significantly deepened the intelligence ties between the two countries. In his report to the State Department, the Inspector General said that Tom Schieffer had exhibited extraordinary leadership and organizational skills in leading the American Embassy in Canberra. The Inspector General said he had examined 83 embassies around the world and had found none that would compare. Later the State Department recognized the business plan for the Embassy organized by Schieffer as one of the three best in the world. After Bush's victory in the November 2004 presidential election, Schieffer announced that he would not serve another term in Canberra. He returned to the United States at the end of 2004, although he did not formally resign as Ambassador until April 1, 2005.

Based upon his work in Australia, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage recommended to President Bush that Ambassador Schieffer be moved to Japan to replace the retiring former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker as Ambassador.

Ambassador of the United States to Japan[edit]

Schieffer became one of only three non-career appointees to serve in both the first and second terms of the Bush administration as an Ambassador. On April 1, 2005 Schieffer was sworn in as the twenty-second Ambassador of the United States to Japan, having been confirmed by the United States Senate unanimously for the second time.

During his tenure in Japan, Schieffer was again cited by the office of the Inspector General for an exemplary job of leading and managing the 1000-plus personnel embassy. He was also intimately involved in negotiating the most far-reaching reorganization of the U.S.-Japan alliance since the signing of the Security Agreement in 1960. The U.S.-Japan alliance has been and continues to be the linchpin of both countries security in Asia and the Pacific. Under the terms of the new agreement Japan agreed to provide billions of dollars in assistance to the United States to help modernize U.S. facilities in Japan. Schieffer was also instrumental in strengthening the intelligence ties between the two countries. Heavily involved in the Six Party Talks, which centered on North Korea's attempts to become a nuclear weapons state, Schieffer was also praised by both Japan and U.S. officials for diplomatic skills throughout the talks. Schieffer was praised by Japan and U.S. human-rights groups for keeping the issue of the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean intelligence agents before negotiators. During his time in Japan, Schieffer attended five more summits with the U.S. President and three Japanese Prime Ministers including the 2008 G-8 Summit in Hokkaido.

On March 16, 2006 he visited Niigata City with the families of victims of North Korean abductions of Japanese.

As Ambassador, Schieffer hosted distinguished leaders, such as on May 13, 2008 the crew members of STS-123 NASA space shuttle Endeavor discussed their March 11–26 mission to the International Space Station and other aspects of astronaut life with a group of Tokyo-area Japanese junior high and high school students at the Embassy. The mission delivered the first part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's "Kibo" module. Students from Naha and Fukuoka also participated in the program by digital video conference.

Schieffer was a frequent speaker on behalf of the United States and worked to enhance global relations. As examples, Ambassador Schieffer was the guest and featured speaker of the Yomiuri International Economic Society's meeting in Osaka and Ambassador Schieffer traveled to Misawa, in northern Japan, and spoke on the topic of "Looking at U.S.-Japan Relations from a Local Perspective." The event commemorated the 50th anniversary of the official establishment of the town of Misawa.

On January 16, 2009 Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, on behalf of the Secretary of Defense, presented outgoing Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Secretary Geren described the Ambassador's support to the U.S.-Japan alliance as tireless, having a tremendous impact, and laying the foundation for Alliance Transformation in the years to come. The medal is the U.S. military's highest civilian award.

He departed this post on January 20, 2009.

Honors[edit]

Schieffer was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia, the highest award that can be presented to a foreigner by the Australian government, for his work in strengthening the Australian American Alliance. After ending his almost eight year diplomatic career this January, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates awarded Schieffer the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest civilian award the Pentagon has to offer for his work in strengthening the US - Japan Alliance. The Federal Bureau of Investigation honored him for his efforts to combat the international scourge of child pornography. The Director of National Intelligence awarded him the National Intelligence Reform Medal. The Central Intelligence Agency presented him with the Donovan Award. The Defense Intelligence Agency presented him with the Director's Award Medal. The National Security Agency presented him the Director's Distinguished Service Medal. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency presented him its Medallion for Excellence.

All of the medals and awards presented to Schieffer by members of the intelligence community were for his work in strengthening and reforming the intelligence cooperation between the United States and Australia, and the United States and Japan.

Family[edit]

Schieffer has been married to Susanne Silber Schieffer, who is originally from San Antonio, for 29 years. Susanne is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where she met Schieffer while working part-time in the Legislature. She eventually became head of a small state agency before they were married. Afterward, she was Director of Project Business for Junior Achievement in Fort Worth, a non-profit organization, committed to fostering free-enterprise principles in young people. They have one son, Paul Schieffer, who graduated in 2007 from St. John's College in Annapolis and is presently pursuing a career in the music industry.

Gubernatorial candidacy[edit]

On March 2, 2009, in Austin, Tom Schieffer announced that he was forming an exploratory committee to consider seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Texas in 2010. In June, Schieffer formally announced his candidacy.

In a campaign stop in heavily Democratic Laredo on June 26, Schieffer announced his opposition to both a border wall and the patrolling of the area by National Guard troops. As governor, Schieffer said he would work to improve the economy of Mexico, which he maintains would reduce the number of immigrants entering the United States illegally. "We need to stop demonizing Mexico and Mexicans for all the problems in America," Schieffer told a group of Laredo supporters.[1]

Regarding education, Schieffer said that such programs as art, music, and science are essential in public schools to keep students engaged and to reduce the dropout rate, particularly high in the border country. He also endorsed emphasis on English at an early age to improve the educational prospects of pupils.[1]

Schieffer has been questioned at Democratic events for his past support for Bush, including for the fact that he "voted for George Bush every time he ran for office."[2]

On November 23, 2009 Schieffer announced that he was dropping out of the 2010 Texas Governor's Race, endorsing Houston mayor Bill White for the race despite White being a candidate for U.S. Senate.[3] White announced December 4, 2009, that he will run for Governor.

Los Angeles Dodgers[edit]

On April 25, 2011, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced Schieffer would oversee the Los Angeles Dodgers' business and financial operations, due to increasing concerns over the current ownership's ability to run the team.[4] After the Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the club informed Schieffer that he no longer had the authority to oversee their operations and told him not to return to work.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mike Stone [1]
Texas Rangers President
1991–1999
Succeeded by
Jim Lites
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Edward William Gnehm, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to Australia
2001 – 2005
Succeeded by
Robert McCallum, Jr
Preceded by
Howard Baker
U.S. Ambassador to Japan
2005 – 2009
Succeeded by
John Roos