U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas: Who Is Cassandra Butts?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

On February 10, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated a law school classmate, Cassandra Q. Butts, to be the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Butts’ nomination on May 13, 2014.


Butts was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 10, 1965, but her family moved to Durham, North Carolina, when she was nine. She attended the University of North Carolina, earning a B.A. in political science in 1987. She worked for a year as a researcher for African News Service in Durham and then went to Harvard Law School, where she became close friends with Obama. She received her law degree in 1991.


After graduation, Butts went to work for Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Pennsylvania) as his legislative counsel. After Wofford was defeated in the 1994 general election by Rick Santorum, Butts moved to the NAACP, where she worked as assistant counsel dealing with civil rights policy.

Butts returned to Capitol Hill in 1996, working for Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) and for the House Democratic Policy Committee. She worked on vetting judicial nominees and served as counsel for the committee during the impeachment hearings for President Bill Clinton. Butts took time out in 2000 to serve as an observer in the Zimbabwean parliamentary elections.


In 2004, Butts was named senior vice president for domestic policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank. She stayed there until 2008, but did take time in late 2004 to help then-rookie Senator Obama set up his office.


Butts was brought onto Obama’s staff in 2008, serving as deputy White House counsel after the inauguration. She again helped with the vetting process, checking into the background of Supreme Court nominees. In 2009, Butts was made a senior adviser to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). She worked there until her nomination as ambassador.


Butts, who is single, has a reputation for enjoying fast cars and has a rare BMW coupe.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement to Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

The New Team: Cassandra Q. Butts (New York Times)


Derrick Nedzel 7 years ago
I represent 40 investors in property in the Bahamas, a mix of Americans and Canadians who were swindled by a crooked Canadian developer and Bahamian Attorney. The property is called Oceania Heights on the island of Exuma. My father purchased 4 lots there in 1999 and 2005. He was never able to get title to the properties. He died in 2009 and I became the executor of his will. I found that none of the investors had title, even though properties were paid in full: a total of over 40 million across 40 investors. I contacted my father's attorney in the Bahamas, but I found he was the president of the company running the development. I hired another attorney and contacted the Bahamian police. The police question the developer: Howard Obront (Canadian from Montreal) and Anthony Thompson (the Bahamian Attorney). The police informed me the law firm I hired to try to get our title was also present as they were representing Howard Obront. When I spoke to that firm they said they didn't feel there was a conflict of interest in representing us and the developer. The police prepared a case, but then the officer in charge was put on nights and threatened with dismissal and the Attorney General's office refused to prosecute the case. I hired another attorney to try to get us title to our properties. We got in touch with the then new Bahamian government in 2012 - Phillip 'Brave' Davis, the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), as well as the US and Canadian Embassies to the Bahamas - by this time we had an informal group of investors, US and Canadian, who were working together. We met with the Bahamian Police and then with the DPM in Nassau (after we had articles published in the press - 14 of us travelled from the US and Canada to make our case to the DPM in January 2013. The DPM agreed to represent us to resolve the situation. Meanwhile I received back tax bills for 5 lots (my dad only bought 4) including a lot that another owner was also taxed for. The Attorney Thompson admitted to the police to collecting $400,000 for Stamp and Duty tax but failing to pass along to the Bahamian government. Several investors filed a complaint with the Bahamian Bar association as well as the case with the police. The DPM told us our attorney was inneffective and recommended yet another one whom we hired. At this point the developer: Howard Obront is still active in the country (despite the fact his resident status specifically states he is not allowed to work in the Bahamas) and Attorney Thompson is still free, he hasn't been charged with anything. 40 investors have lost a total of over $40 million dollars - in many cases their whole life savings. People are bankrupt because of this. I have been working with the US and Canadian embassies as well as the DPM's office, but it's been 5 years now, and 2 years since the meeting with the DPM and so far, nothing has happened: we still don't have title to our properties, we can't sell the properties and the Bahamian government continues to bill us for back taxes on properties we don't own. I am at my wits end, many of the investors are despondent. Surprisingly, the US Government, whom I would expect to be very influential, seems unable to convince the DPM or his government to take any action. Is there any hope? I need to recover what funds I can to care for a sick relative, as do many of the other investors (many are elderly now - the developer admitted to the police he focused on elderly investors). Derrick Nedzel Colorado, USA 303-356-4545 dnedzel@yahoo.com

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