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Michael Froman

U.S. trade representative

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Why He Matters

Michael Froman was confirmed on June 19 to succeed Ron Kirk as U.S. trade representative.

Froman and President Obama know each other from their time as editors of the Harvard Law Review. Now Froman has signed on for the unusual dual role of international finance adviser for both the National Economic Council (NEC) and the National Security Council (NSC), linking the two bodies in an effort to stem the world financial crisis. He'll also work as a liaison to the White House during Group of 7, Group of 8 and Group of 20 meetings.

A veteran of Citigroup, a bank that received $45 billion in government funding in order to stem its credit woes, Froman could receive some flak for being part of the beleaguered company's tumble. Citigroup has also been a poster-child for Wall Street excess as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had to urge the company to cancel plans for a $45 million private jet, despite accepting billions in taxpayer funds.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Citigroup executive (1999 to 2009); Treasury Department Chief of Staff (1997 to 1999); Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Eurasia and the Middle East (1995 to 1997)
  • Birthday: Aug. 20, 1962
  • Hometown: California
  • Alma Mater: Princeton University (international affairs); Oxford University, Ph.D. (international relations); Harvard Law School, J.D.
  • Spouse: Nancy Goodman
  • Web site
 

Path to Power

Froman chose not to follow in his father's footsteps managing a local furniture store in California, and instead attended Princeton University for his undergraduate studies. After focusing on international affairs, he received a Fulbright scholarship to study at Oxford, where he obtained a doctorate in international relations.

While in law school at Harvard, Froman worked at the Harvard Law Review, as did Obama, Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski and former deputy White House Counsel Cassandra Butts. Froman and Obama were both editors.

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The Issues

In 2004, Froman heard his long-lost buddy was planning to run for the Illinois Senate. Froman called up Obama and offered his help, which Obama accepted.

The offer of assistance would continue throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, as the Citigroup manager had a long list of New York finance friends who would be willing to part with some cash for the right cause. Froman helped to get Obama in the door, and even persuaded certain financiers, who had strong ties in the community, to support Obama.

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The Network

Froman joins a long list of Harvard friends that Obama has tapped for jobs in his administration. Federal Communications Commission head Julius Genachowski, former deputy White House counsel Cassandra Butts and White House Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu were all fellow Harvard classmates.

Froman has worked closely with Rubin, who Froman worked under at the Clinton Treasury Department and then followed to Citigroup.

 

Campaign Contributions

Froman has donated over $35,000 since 2000. All of his money went to Democratic campaigns, except for $500 he gave to Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) in 2006. Froman also was a bundler in Obama's campaign, raising at least $200,000 for the Illinois Democrat.

(photo courtesy White House photostream / Pete Souza)

 

Additional Resources

  1. WhiteHouseforSale.org
  2. Halstead, Richard, "Marin native Michael Froman is friend of Obama, serving on transition team," Marin Independent Journal, Nov. 24, 2008
  3. Bansal, Paritosh "UPDATE 1-Sandy Weill gives up use of Citi aircraft," Reuters, Feb. 2, 2009
  4. Smith, Ben, "Froman to the White House," Politico.com, Feb. 2, 2009
  5. Kantor, Jodi, "THE NEW TEAM: Michael Froman," The New York Times, Nov. 14, 2008
  6. WhiteHouseforSale.org
  7. Sender, Henny, "Investors hammered by Citi fund setback," Financial Times, Jan. 15, 2009
  8. Center for Responsive Politics
  9. Binder, David, "At the Bar; A code that defines Albania has a mixed role in shaping a legal system for that country," The New York Times, Nov. 11, 1994
  10. John Heilemann, "Money Chooses Sides," New York Magazine, April 23, 2007