Was Cynthia Stroum America’s Worst Ambassador?
Saturday, February 05, 2011
You know there’s something seriously wrong at an American embassy when staffers ask to be transferred to a war zone, instead of staying put in a cushy European post.
At the U.S. embassy in Luxembourg, life under Ambassador Cynthia Stroum was a “disaster.” After only one year on the job, Stroum resigned, leaving behind a diplomatic mission suffering from personality conflicts, verbal abuse and questionable expenditures on travel, wine and liquor.
“Most employees describe the Ambassador as aggressive, bullying, hostile and intimidating, which has resulted in an extremely difficult, unhappy and uncertain work environment,” reads a report from the State Department’s inspector general.
The IG recommended that embassy staff have their stress levels checked. In fact, at least four staffers quit or sought transfers to Iraq and Afghanistan rather than remain in Luxembourg under Stroum.
The ambassador, who helped raise at least $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, was said to be obsessed with job-related perks, including housing, travel and wine.
While the ambassador’s residence was renovated, Stroum made a staffer spend six weeks searching for temporary housing. The official screened 200 properties and visited 30 to 40. Stroum rejected all of the recommendations.
A day before the 2010 budget year concluded, Stroum had the embassy purchase $3,400 in wine and liquor using funds that would not have been available in the next fiscal year. This transaction violated State Department budgeting policy.
Big Obama Donor Quits Envoy Job Amid Criticism (by Matthew Lee, Associated Press)
Report of Inspection Embassy Luxembourg (State Department) (pdf)
Ambassador to Luxembourg Resigns: Who was Cynthia Stroum? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Democratic Financier Cynthia Stroum Flames Out After Brief Stint as Barack Obama's Ambassador to Luxembourg (by Michael Beckel, OpenSecrets.org)
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