Ambassador to Singapore: Who Is Kirk Wagar?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Kirk Wagar was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore on September 4, 2013, succeeding David Adelman, the former Georgia state senator appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010. An attorney from Miami, Wagar was a major donor and bundler for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns.

 

Born circa 1969 in the small town of Perth, Ontario, Canada, Wagar has lived in the U.S. since 1987, when he moved south to become the first member of his family to attend college. His parents, who adopted him when he was four months old, were a school teacher and a ship’s captain who plied the waters of the Arctic. Wagar became a U.S. citizen in 2004.

 

Wagar earned a B.A. in History and Political Science in 1990 at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York, a conservative Christian college where he says his liberal politics “went over like a turd in a punch bowl.” In 1989, he went to Birckbeck College at the University of London to serve a political internship at the Liberal Democrat policy unit. He earned a J.D. at the University of Miami in 1993.

 

Wagar began practicing in 1993 at a civil litigation firm that handled personal injury, Hurricane Andrew and fire loss claims in addition to disability and life insurance claims, leaving in 1998 to found Wagar Law, P.A., in 1998 to represent people who have been wrongfully denied benefits under their long-term disability benefits and life insurance claims.

 

Wagar has been active in Democratic politics since the 1990s, and has donated more than $220,000 to numerous Democratic candidates and causes, including more than $110,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). He raised money for Janet Reno’s failed 2002 gubernatorial run, and he was the DNC’s Florida finance chair during John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. He was Obama’s Florida finance chairman in 2008 and 2012, hauling in more than $1 million for the president in each election.

 

Long active in trial lawyer organizations, Wagar has been a member on the board of governors for the American Association for Justice and a member of the board of directors for the Florida Justice Association. From 2003 to 2005, he served on the board of directors for the Miami-Dade Justice Association.

 

Wagar served on the Sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee of the Export-Import Bank in 2010, and on the full Ex-Im Bank Advisory Committee for the 2011 and 2012 terms.

 

Wagar and fellow Miami lawyer Crystal Connor, whom he subsequently married, were guests at the infamous 2009 Obama White House state dinner “crashed” by Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Interviewed by the Miami Herald, Wagar said, “It looked like they were supposed to be there. I was talking to John Kerry, and (Tareq Salahi) was talking to Chris Dodd, and they were trying to get in front of as many famous people as possible.”

 

Only after the story broke the next day did Wager realize: “We met those people!’”

 

Wagar, who has an adult daughter from a teen romance, also has a young son, Declan, with former wife Lara Murphy, a dance teacher whom he married circa 1996. At present, Wagar is married to Crystal Connor Wagar.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

WagarLaw Biography

Miami Lawyer Kirk Wagar Tapped to be Ambassador to Singapore (by Evan S. Benn, Miami Herald)

He’s Obama's Political Muscle in Florida (by Ada C. Smith, Tampa Bay Times)

Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

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