Washington

Sepulveda Nominated as Ambassador

Former top Kerry Senate aide is now top state ITU treaty negotiator 5/24/2013 04:03:26 PM Eastern

Former top Senate Communications Subcommittee aide Danny
Sepulveda has been nominated by President Obama to the rank of ambassador.

Sepulveda has, since April, been Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State for International Communications and Information Policy at the State
Department, where his former boss, former Communications Subcommittee chairman
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), is now Secretary of State.

Sepulveda was a senior adviser to Sen. Kerry from 2009 to
2013. Before that, he was a legislative assistant to another high-profile
member of Congress -- then Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Sepulveda's State post did not require presidential
appointment or confirmation, but since he will be negotiating international
telecom treaties at the International Telecommunications Union, having the
ambassador rank will be key to putting him on a similar footing with others
negotiating for their countries. Bringing him on before getting the
ambassadorship allowed him to hit the ground running rather than wait for
confirmation. His predecessors, most recently Phil Verveer, also held the rank
of ambassador.

"Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International
Communications and Information Policy" doesn't sound like one of those
positions ripe for high-profile status, but it has been thrust at least partly into
the limelight by a congressional and administration focus on preserving
the multistakeholder model of Internet governance
in the face of efforts by
China, Russia, some Arab states and other ITU members to undercut that model.

Another international treaty issue much on the minds of the
media these days is border spectrum coordination with Canada and Mexico related
to broadcast incentive auctions. Both State and FCC play a role in those, but
recently New York's two senators wrote Secretary Kerry asking the State weigh
in "at a very high" level to insure the success of that coordination,
which
could affect New York viewers along the Canadian border.

The Secretary of State is said to have a good working, and
playing, relationship with Sepulveda according to a source familiar with both.
They are cancer survivors, and then-Sen. Kerry is said to have been fond of
relating a story about when he discovered Sepulveda was also a bicycle
enthusiast.

Kerry invited him on a ride that turned into a race. The
senator won.

Either Kerry was the better cyclist, or perhaps
Sepulveda was already practicing the diplomatic skills he will need in his new
post.

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