Washington Babylon — November 13, 2008, 12:36 pm

Familiar Faces Come on Board: Fannie Mae veteran on State Department transition team

The Washington Post reports that the “Obama transition team yesterday rolled out a new list of officials who will help guide the process, singling out the Treasury, Defense and State departments as its first three areas of focus.”

At the helm of the Treasury Department transition team are Josh Gotbaum, an adviser to investment funds who held various Senate-confirmed positions during the Clinton administration, and Michael Warren, chief operating officer of Stonebridge International LLC.

Heading the State team are two veterans of the Democratic foreign policy establishment, both intimately familiar with the people and machinery at Foggy Bottom. Both Thomas E. Donilon, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers, and Wendy R. Sherman, a business partner of former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, had senior positions in the Clinton-era State Department.

A few other items about Sherman. “From April 1996 until July 1997, she was President and CEO of the Fannie Mae Foundation and a member of the operating committee of Fannie Mae,” says her bio. “At the Foundation, she set in place the groundwork for the newly recreated foundation developed to promote home ownership.” At the Albright Group, she was a door opener for American companies looking to do business abroad. “She leverages her experience as a senior-level diplomat and her expertise in foreign relations to help clients – including businesses and nongovernmental organizations – locate partnership opportunities, gain competitive advantage in the marketplace, and resolve regulatory and political disputes throughout the world,” her bio there said.

Stonebridge International, where Warren is COO, has the same business model. I’ve written about Stonebridge, in an article discussed here.

These are standard members of the permanent government. They work for the government, revolve out to the private sector when their party loses office, and revolve back in when their side wins again. Business consultancies like Albright’s and Stonebridge are pretty much indistinguishable from similar companies run by Republican foreign policy gurus (such as Al Haig and Brent Scowcroft). The people who operate them aren’t technically lobbyists, but they end up being strong advocates for the countries where they do business.

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I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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