Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein: Who Is Ed McMullen?

Tuesday, October 03, 2017
Ed McMullen (photo: Saul Loeb, Getty Images)

Just as presidents often reward major campaign donors with plum diplomatic posts, so too do they reward their political operatives. In the latter category is Ed McMullen, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next ambassador to Switzerland, with concurrent accreditation to Lichtenstein. A longtime politico, McMullen hopped on the Trump train early. In January 2015, he was one of five advisors to Trump’s exploratory committee, which became the Trump for President Campaign. McMullen was South Carolina chairman, a member of the transition team, and vice chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. He has said of Trump, “The only other person who can hold a candle to him in terms of charisma is Ronald Reagan, and [Trump] has more charisma one on one.” On September 2, 2017, Trump rewarded him with an ambassadorial appointment.

 

Although McMullen said in December 2016 that he would not take a job in the Trump administration because he did not want to leave South Carolina for Washington, DC, apparently he feels differently about leaving Columbia for Bern. If confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed Suzan LeVine, who served from 2014 to the close of the Obama administration. LeVine had been a major fundraiser for Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

 

Born in 1964 in New York, Edward Thomas McMullen Jr. grew up on Long Island Sound. In his youth, McMullen worked at his maternal grandfather’s New York advertising firm, The Cochran Company. He earned a B.A. in Political Science at Hampden-Sydney College in 1986.

 

After graduation, McMullen started his career as a conservative Republican politico at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, where he was director of development research from 1986 to 1989. He also briefly worked as vice president for development at the Free Congress Foundation, a DC-based group focused on fighting so-called “political correctness.”

 

McMullen moved to Columbia, South Carolina in 1989, where he worked for the South Carolina Policy Council (SCPC)—effectively a state-based affiliate of Heritage—until 2007, eventually becoming chair.

 

McMullen has ties to Switzerland. In 1995, the American Swiss Foundation selected him to participate in its “Young Leaders” program. McMullen attended a week-long Young Leaders Conference in Switzerland with others from Switzerland and the US, visiting government officials and politicians. He has since traveled in Switzerland many times.

 

While still at SCPC, McMullen founded his own advertising and public relations firm in 2005, McMullen Public Affairs, which has offices in Columbia, Charleston and Washington, DC. The firm specializes in representing Republican candidates and issues. McMullen has served as an advisor in several national presidential campaigns, including those of John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson, and statewide campaigns in Virginia and South Carolina.

 

At the same time he was serving on President Trump’s presidential transition, McMullen was also co-chairman of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster’s transition team.

 

McMullen is married to Margaret Ann (Wade) McMullen, with whom he has two children, Thomas and Katherine. He has served as chairman of the National Alumni Association of Hampden-Sydney College.

-Matt Bewig

To Learn More:

Statement at Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Confirmation Hearing

SC Consultant Helped Steer Trump to Improbable Victory (by Bristow Marchant, The State)

Ed McMullen: South Carolina’s ‘Man of the Moment’ (by Charles W. Waring III, Charleston Mercury) 

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