Ambassador to Finland: Who is Bruce Oreck?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Heir to the Oreck vacuum-cleaning fortune, Bruce Oreck was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Finland August 12, 2009. His experiences have run the gamut from tax attorney to body building to major player in Democratic Party politics. Having contributed thousands of dollars of his own money to campaigns, Oreck also has helped raise even more cash from others for candidates, including President Barack Obama.

Son of David Oreck, founder of the Oreck Corporation, Bruce Oreck grew up with an active outdoors and sports life, collecting minerals as a boy and fighting in boxing matches in high school. He was later a member of the championship fencing team at Johns Hopkins University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in 1975. His graduate studies were conducted at Louisiana State University (Juris Doctorate) and New York University (Masters of Law in taxation).
Oreck joined the New Orleans law firm of Liskow & Lewis in 1981, where he made partner while working as a tax attorney representing the oil and gas industry. He left in 1992 to form his own firm, Oreck, Crighton, Adams & Chase, which represented Fortune 100 companies in connection with state and local tax issues. This included helping Dow Chemical and other companies get $85 million from the state of Louisiana after a tax on corporate dividends was declared unconstitutional by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
While running his own firm, Oreck also served as vice president and general counsel for his family business, The Oreck Corporation, from 1993 until the company was sold in 2003.
He has also run his own real estate development company focused on historic restorations. The business has renovated and restored more than 100,000 square feet of historic homes and apartment buildings in New Orleans.
Oreck’s other interests include founding the Zero Carbon Initiative to promote environmentally-friendly homes, and serving as a founding member of the board of trustees for the Grand Canyon Trust. In addition, he served as a member of Colorado Governor Bill Ritter’s New Energy transition advisory team and as a member of the Colorado Climate Action Panel.
In possession of one of the leading collections of fine minerals in the United States, Oreck and his wife, Charlotte, are major donors of mineral specimens to museums throughout America. Their financial contributions have gone to both the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum collections.
Oreck became a supporter of Obama’s during the early days of the presidential primary contest. He eventually served on Obama’s national finance committee, and according to, bundled at least $500,000 to the Democratic nominee’s campaign. Also, Oreck and his wife bundled $75,000 for the president’s inauguration.
Aside from his backing of Obama, Oreck has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates, including large chunks ($28,500, $25,000, and $15,000) to campaign committees supporting U.S. Senate and House races.
His involvement in politics also includes being a founding member of the Colorado Democracy Alliance, a coordinating council for left-leaning organizations.
Oreck’s enthusiasm for the outdoors has resulted in his camping all over America, throughout Europe and much of East Africa. He also worked as a boatman rowing wooden dories down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon for nearly ten years. His interest in athletics broadened to include body building, and he won the Colorado state men’s masters body-building championship several years in a row.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Bruce J. Oreck Biography (U.S. Department of State)


Mika Juhani 9 years ago Are Americans becoming more like Finns by asking how others take an attitude toward them? Bruce Oreck's way to show off his arms every now and then is very "YES" for the reason that it is A) a humor, B) done with a twinkle in his eye, C) something different for a change, and especially D) "Freshen Up Effect" against prevailing Slavic-gray and depressing and cheerless atmosphere in the news media and commonly in Finland. Refreshing! Thanks Bruce
Lois D Smith-Capasso 9 years ago
70 years ago in high school, I learned that Finland was the only country that repaid their WW I debt to the United States. I have had an opportunity to visit Helsinki at the conclusion of a Viking cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg. I would like to somehow show my appreciation to the people of Finland for this great thing which must have been a very big sacrifice for them all. Many of us know and appreciate their great architects are we love the design which originates in Finland. But I say Bravo to the people. As I will soon celebrate my 86th year, this may be the last time that I have an opportunity to go so far afield. Could my Ambassador or his staff assist me in fulfilling this wish to say thanks from my countrymen.
Jani Määttä 10 years ago
Great Ambassador, what else could you say? This man truly changed the way that some Finnish people think about USA.
chip michiels 10 years ago
Hey,Bruce! How were you effected by the flooding? I haven't seen you since high school but I heard you were living in Boulder. Good luck!
Matti Leiber 11 years ago
Upeaa...onnittelut Obaman voiton johdosta. Sinä edustat myös "obamalaista" oikeudenmukaista USA:ta. Sydämellisin terveisin Matti Leiber Suomen kokoomuslainen RI ja arkkitehti, yliopettaja evp. Oulusta

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