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Tauscher to speak at Cal on U.S.-Russia relations

Ellen Tauscher started the summer optimistic that the improving U.S.-Russia relationship would provide fertile ground for new arms-control agreements – but it’s been a tough couple of months since then.

“This is like batting-cage practice when the machine goes wild and is throwing balls at you left and right,” she said in a telephone interview Monday. “Events can overtake you.”

negotiating aloneTauscher, a former East Bay congresswoman who served for three years as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, will be back in the Bay Area on Oct. 30 to deliver a speech entitled “Negotiating Alone? The United States, Russia and the Prospect of Arms Control.”

Sponsored by the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at UC-Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, Tauscher’s address will assess the prospects for future arms control agreements between two nations that still retain vast nuclear arsenals.

Tauscher in June had co-authored an article in Foreign Policy magazine with Igor Ivanov – a president of the Russian International Affairs Council and former Russian Federation foreign minister – in which they wrote the U.S.-Russian political dialogue was finally gaining momentum toward mutually assured stability.

But things turned sour this summer. Russia in June enacted new laws limiting civil liberties for gays and lesbians; in August gave asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden; and throughout maintained its support for its longtime ally Syrian President Bashar Assad during that nation’s brutal civil war. President Obama cancelled a September summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Can this marriage be saved?” Tauscher quipped Monday, before adding that it must be.

“It is a fundamentally important relationship for many, many reasons, and we are not at our best right now – that is for sure – but I think that everybody who has been part of this for a long time knows that relationships ebb and wane,” she said, adding efforts are afoot to “try to get back to a better footing” and “find a way to remember that we do some of the best works in the world together.”

Ellen TauscherThe Syria situation – in which Russia for years has blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Assad’s government, and then last month brokered a deal for destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons – has been particularly trying, Tauscher said.

“This is when it’s very difficult to keep a sense of equilibrium in the relationship because it’s not just the obvious bilateral and international roles that we play,” she said. “It’s very complicated when third, fourth and fifth parties are involved, and that’s part of the situation we find ourselves in now.”

She said she hopes the “Track II” nonofficial talks that she’s a part of will be fruitful as a “back channel way for conversations to keep going when the public face of the relationship is not the prettiest.”

Tauscher is now senior public policy adviser to the Baker Donelson law firm in Washington, D.C. Registration for her Matsui Lecture is available online.

Posted on Monday, October 21st, 2013
Under: Ellen Tauscher, International politics | 2 Comments »

Tauscher to chair new Governor’s Military Council

Gov. Jerry Brown probably believes it’s fine for the nation to speak softly, but he’s enlisting a former East Bay Congresswoman to ensure California remains part of its big stick.

Ellen TauscherBrown today appointed former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher to chair a new Governor’s Military Council, tasked with protecting California’s military installations against the deep budget cuts being made by the Pentagon under the sequestration approved by Congress and President Obama.

“California plays a crucial role in our nation’s defense, and military bases and activities are vital to our state’s economy,” Brown said in a news release. “As federal priorities shift to cyber security and new military technology, this Council will work to expand defense-industry jobs and investment in California.”

California is home to 29 federal military installations, and the Defense Department directly employs more than 236,000 people in California. This new council will work to protect those installations and operations amid ongoing Defense Department budget cuts, and to push for changes in federal military strategy that will keep California at the front of defense innovation.

“California’s military infrastructure is critically important to national security,” Tauscher said. “The Council will send a unified message to Washington, D.C., that highlights the value of our military bases.”

Tauscher, 61, represented her East Bay congressional district from 1997 until 2009, when she resigned to take a post as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs; she left that post in February 2012. More recently, she served as the State Department’s Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense and Vice Chair-Designate of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. She is now a strategic advisor to the Baker Donelson law firm in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., noted defense is key sector of the state’s economy.

“With federal budgets continuing to be cut — including many defense programs — it is my hope that the Governor’s Military Council will help protect jobs and investments and attract new missions associated with California’s military presence,” she said. “I also believe that Ellen Tauscher is an excellent choice to chair this council, as she brings a wealth of experience at the State Department and as a member of the House of Representatives.”

The council will convene for one year and draft specific recommendations to the governor and Legislature. It includes retired admirals and generals from all military branches, the Adjutant General of the California National Guard and lawmakers selected by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez. The appointments don’t require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation.

See the full roster of council members as described by the governor’s office, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, March 28th, 2013
Under: economy, Ellen Tauscher, Jerry Brown, national security | 5 Comments »

Tauscher declares victory over cancer

U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher (Photo by Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher

I had breakfast with U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher earlier this week and the former East Bay congresswoman shared the compelling and inspiring story of her remarkable triumph over esophageal cancer.

Read the full story here.

I didn’t have space in the piece but I shared with Ellen that morning about how her experience had already helped me in a very personal way.

Last March, the Washington Post wrote a lovely story about her recovery and as I read through the text, I keyed in on Ellen’s description of the early symptoms: Trouble swallowing bulky foods, a sensation of something blocking her esophagus.

My husband had been experiencing the very same symptoms for months. He had recently suffered a painful episode while eating a salad at a restaurant.

I showed him the news story and he made an appointment.

The initial examination revealed a potential problem and his doctor scheduled an endoscopy. Fortunately, the scope found a highly treatable inflammation and not cancer.

But for all we knew at the time, the symptoms could have been associated with a far more serious health problem. And early detection is a good thing when it comes to the successful treatment of cancer.

So, take Ellen’s advice: Even if you think all you need is another roll of Tums, go see your doctor.  Do it for the people who love you.

Posted on Friday, July 29th, 2011
Under: Congress, Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher, national security | 2 Comments »

Tauscher cancer free, says Post

Tauscher

Tauscher

Former East Bay congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, now under secretary for international security and arms control in the U.S. State Department, is cancer free, according to the Washington Post’s “What Happened To …” segment.

That’s excellent news.

Not long after her 2009 marriage to retired pilot Jim Cieslak, Tauscher  underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and then surgery to remove her esophagus.

These two make a wonderful couple and they deserve many more years together.  My best wishes for a continued clean bill of health!

Posted on Sunday, March 27th, 2011
Under: Ellen Tauscher, women in politics | 14 Comments »

Santa visits Tauscher early

Tauscher

Tauscher

Christmas has come a little early for former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, now Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security in the U.S. State Department.

The U.S. Senate today in a vote of 71 to 26 ratified a new arms control treaty with Russia that will cap nuclear warheads and restart on-site weapons inspections. As the undersecretary over arms control who reports directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Tauscher played a key role in the treaty negotiations.

And earlier today, President Barack Obama signed legislation that ends a ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military. Tauscher was the original cosponsor of the bill; she turned it over to Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., before she left Congress in 2009 for her new job.

Tauscher cannot, in her new position, comment on the military legislation she wrote, but sources say Murphy called her Saturday, and in a touching conversation, told the former legislator that the bill “wouldn’t have happened without her.”

Tauscher is under no such prohibition on the subject of the START treaty, although she made her statement as she recovers from esophageal cancer surgery performed earlier this month.

“I want to congratulate the United States Senate for providing its advice and consent to ratification of the new START Treaty,” she said in a statement issued by her office. “I want to commend the senators from both parties who worked to achieve this positive outcome for our country.”

She added, “The new START Treaty is another step that will help move the United States and Russia toward a world of mutual assured stability. This treaty will enhance cooperation with Russia and reinforce the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.”

Tauscher went on to praise a variety of leaders, saying  “The leadership of President (Barack) Obama, Vice President (Joe) Biden, Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton, Secretary (Robert) Gates, Admiral (Mike) Mullen, and the Director of National Intelligence were indispensable. Once again, I want to thank the Senate for putting U.S. security first and voting for the new START Treaty.”

Posted on Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
Under: Ellen Tauscher | 9 Comments »

Tauscher to sit on cyber security board

Tauscher

Tauscher

Former East Bay Rep. Ellen Tauscher, now the Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security in the State Department, will serve on a board charged with addressing cyber security such as the disclosure of thousands of U.S. secret documents on Wikileaks, according to a national security blog.

State Department Creates Cyber Coordinator Post

Plan for New Position in Works Year Before WikiLeaks Breach

December 16, 2010 – Eric Chabrow, Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity.com

A newly created State Department Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, unveiled in a 242-page report issued Wednesday, is charged with uniting different parts of the department working on cyber matters to more effectively advance America’s cybersecurity interests …

The coordinator will be in the Office of the Secretary, will report to Clinton, and will be guided by a cyber advisory council, chaired by Deputy Secretary James Steinberg and including Robert D. Hormats, undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment; Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary for arms control and international security; and Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary for management. Other senior department officials will be consulted as appropriate.

Tauscher’s name has come up in a few stories overseas and in the U.S. about the contents of secret diplomatic documents posted by Wikileaks, including these entries at the The Guardian, Salon.com, the Jerusalem Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Posted on Thursday, December 16th, 2010
Under: Ellen Tauscher | 14 Comments »

Tauscher sworn in … again

The Washington Post’s foreign policy website reports today that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially swore in former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher Monday as her Undersecretary for International Security and Arms Control.

Wait? Didn’t a federal judge already do that in June? I thought so, too. But who am I to argue with the Washington Post or the State Department’s mysterious ways.

Here is the first part of The Cable site’s entry. Click here for the full report.

Just back from an 11-day trip to Africa and before meetings with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and the White House and then heading off for vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton swore in her close ally, former Rep. Ellen Tauscher, as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security Monday in the State Department’s eighth floor Ben Franklin room. In attendance were National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones and his wife, long-time friends of Tauscher and her new groom Jim Cieslak (like Jones a former Marine), along with Clinton’s special advisor on arms control and international security Robert Einhorn, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, and Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro.


Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Under: Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

CD10: Tauscher’s endorsement questioned

A Lafayette attorney wants State Department lawyers to force Under Secretary Ellen Tauscher to repudiate her endorsement of state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier to succeed her in Congress.

And DeSaulnier rival John Garamendi made sure to give Tauscher a heads-up.

Jason A. Bezis – who in the final days of Tauscher’s Congressional career was berating her for what he says were too few and too inaccessible CD10 town meetings – has drafted an extensive memo, with exhibits, illustrating his complaint that Tauscher is in violation of State Department rules.

“The State Department’s ‘Rules on Political Activities’ state their rationale, ‘The Department has a long-standing policy of limiting participation in partisan campaigns by its top officials and political appointees in recognition of the bipartisan character of our foreign policy,’” Bezis noted in an e-mail to the DeSaulnier campaign accompanying the memo. “Therefore, Undersecretary Tauscher’s endorsement of your campaigns has the potential of harming American foreign policy. Your acceptance and prominent use of her endorsement may have a similar damaging effect.

He’s asking that DeSaulnier’s campaign remove all reference’s to Tauscher’s endorsement from its Web sites; remove from circulation and destroy any campaign literature and fundraising invitations stating or implying the endorsement; advise other Democratic groups to do the same; instruct staff and volunteers not to mention Tauscher’s endorsement; and omit any mention from it from future advertisements.

“Senator DeSaulnier is seeking to become a federal lawmaker. It is imperative, especially as an aspiring federal legislator, that he follows the letter and spirit of existing federal law. Mr. DeSaulnier should not enjoy ‘fruit from the poisonous tree’ of Undersecretary Tauscher’s illegal endorsement,” Bezis wrote in his e-mail.

Garamendi’s campaign sent a copy of Bezis’ memo this week to a Tauscher aide, with a cover note that said:

I have been informed by a lawyer in the 10th Congressional District that he is preparing a formal complaint concerning U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher’s endorsement of California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier in the run up to the September 1st Special Election.
I am a long time friend of Ellen’s and I do not want her to be jeopardized in any way. As a former Deputy Secretary at Interior, I am aware of the issue that she faces and I wanted the Undersecretary to know of this problem ahead of any formal complaint. Please let me know what the Undersecretary intends to do.
Attached is the draft of the lawyer’s memo.
Sincerely,
John Garamendi

DeSaulnier campaign spokeswoman Katie Merrill offered just one word of response today: “Seriously?”

Tauscher’s office declined comment, but longtime Tauscher campaign consultant Lisa Tucker – no longer in the Under Secretary’s employ – said this is “sour grapes” on Garamendi’s part.

“Garamendi sought her endorsement and didn’t get it, and if he’d gotten it he wouldn’t be doing this,” Tucker said. “Everything that DeSaulnier is using says ‘Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher’ — it’s from before she was sworn in, so it’s all on the up-and-up.”

Tauscher endorsed DeSaulnier in late March, well before President Barack Obama formally nominated her in early May to serve as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

I tried to reach Bezis to ask whether he has endorsed, contributed to, or in any way supported any of the CD10 candidates, but my e-mail and voice mail weren’t returned. He is registered to vote as a Democrat and has written several articles for the Democrat-run California Majority Report, but I don’t see that he has made any campaign contributions to Garamendi or any other CD10 candidate.

UPDATE @ 7:33 A.M. FRIDAY: Bezis wrote back to me overnight, stating he’d endorsed DeSaulnier early on but revoked that endorsement “motivated in part by the campaign literature touting Ellen Tauscher’s backing of his campaign.” He said he has spoken with DeSaulnier, Garamendi, Joan Buchanan, Anthony Woods and Adriel Hampton in recent weeks and believes “all of the candidates (from all political parties) deserve a fair ‘playing field’ — which Tauscher’s illegal endorsement upsets.”

Tucker’s statement, he said, is “outrageous. Tauscher should not have made an endorsement in any partisan election would coincide with any day of her tenure at the State Department. Tauscher went out of her way to make a ‘pre-endorsement’ of DeSaulnier for a special election that did not yet exist. Tauscher knew that a vacancy would be created and a special election called because of and only because of her State Department appointment. It was obvious that her successor would be elected while she was at the State Department, when she undisputedly could not make an endorsement.”

Other CD10 tidbits, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 16th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Ellen Tauscher, Joan Buchanan, John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

In a twofer, Tauscher takes oath of marriage and office

Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher

Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher

Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher and retired airline pilot Jim Cieslak, the man she introduces as the “love of my life,” married Saturday evening in the backyard of the bride’s Washington, D.C., home, in the company of 120 friends and family.

Moments after the bride and groom said their “I do’s” and kissed, Federal District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle announced a surprise second act.

Tauscher’s 18-year-old daughter, Katherine, held a bible while her mother was sworn in as the new undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security in the U.S. State Department.

The ceremony was held under a large, air-conditioned tent in the backyard of Tauscher’s Kalorama neighborhood home near the city’s famed Embassy Row. Guests then strolled across the street for a steak dinner in the garden of the Woodrow Wilson House before returning to the big tent for drinks and DJ music.

Tauscher, 57, is well-known in Washington as a skillful and gracious hostess and her wedding was no exception. The food was good and plentiful and the atmosphere festive, they said.

Among the best moments, they said, were the “emotional” and “pitch-perfect” toasts from Katherine and Kelly, Jim’s daughter, to their parents.

Among the guests were Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who spoke during the ceremony, as well as General Jim Jones, President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor and Tauscher’s close friend. Others in attendance were Reps. Joe Crowley, Jane Harman, Diana DeGette, Steny Hoyer and Carolyn McCarthy.

A number of folks from Tauscher’s East Bay district also made the trip out to witness the nuptuals, including her former staffer David Bowlby of Alamo and longtime campaign consultants Lisa Tucker and Katie Merrill.

The couple is honeymooning this week in Burmuda.

As a side note, one can only imagine the behind-the-scenes logistics in the days leading up to the wedding and swearing-in ceremony.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Tauscher’s nomination late last Thursday after a Utah GOP senator was persuaded to lift his hold on her name. Then Tauscher stayed on in the House Friday where Speaker Nancy Pelosi tapped Tauscher to lead the lengthy and contentious debate over the climate bill.

Tauscher cast an “aye” vote on the climate bill late Friday and was finally free to resign from Congress and focus on her wedding day.

Let no one say that Ellen Tauscher Cieslak lacks multi-tasking skills.

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher | 1 Comment »

Read the text of Tauscher’s final comments

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

Here is the text of Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s final comments on the floor of the House of Representatives this morning. (I used PDF conversion software so forgive me in advance if I failed to catch all the scanning mistakes.)

(By unanimous consent, Mrs. Tauscher was allowed to speak out of order)

Confirmation of Congresswoman Tauscher by U.S. Senate as Under Secretary of State

Mrs. TAUSCHER.: Mr. Chairman and my colleagues, I rise to announce that I have been confirmed by the United States Senate as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. I have informed my friend, the Speaker of the House, and the Governor of California that I will be resigning my seat at the end of votes today.

Madam Speaker, Mr. Chairman, I am deeply grateful for the trust that both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have placed in me. I am equally grateful and humbled by the honor and privilege to have represented California’s 10th Congressional District for the last 13 years in the House of Representatives. It has been the deepest and greatest professional experience of my life, and I am deeply, deeply grateful for the opportunity and the trust that my constituents have placed in me.

In my seven terms in the Congress, I have tried to keep my promise of being an independent and effective moderate. I have worked hard, and I have worked with you. I look around the room; many Members I have served with for the entire time I have been here, and some of you I have flown on planes with and some of you I have taken codels with.

What I know is that we sit here and we do the people’s work, and whether we agree or not doesn’t always matter. What is most important is that we represent our constituents, that we honor the Constitution, and we keep faith with our conscience. Those are the three Cs that I have tried for these years to maintain in balance. It’s not always easy, but I have tried.

I look at all of you and I understand how difficult this world is and how troubling the lives of many Americans are now and how heavy the burden is on you. What I pledge to you, as I leave the legislative branch in this great House that I have grown to love and all of you that I love, and my constituents that I love, what I promise you in my new capacity is to work with you to achieve what we all know is important, to make sure that we have the safety and the security of the American people always on the forefront of our minds.

I have been blessed to have, I think, some of the best staff in the world. I have always told people I represent the smartest people in the world. I have the two national nuclear labs in Livermore, California, and I have Travis Air Force Base and 600-some-odd thousand constituents who apparently, now, 100 percent of them have voted for me every time. There’s nothing like leaving to become popular.

But I just want to thank, the staff who have worked with me both on the subcommittee and my personal staff and my district staff that have been just absolutely fabulous.

I want to thank my friends in the House, my friends that started as friends and became family and who have sustained me and with whom I have learned so much.

I want to thank the Speaker for her indefatigable energy. I want to thank Steny Hoyer. I want to thank my partner in my county, George Miller. I want to thank Ike Skelton and Jim Oberstar, my chairmen, for being so generous and for helping me learn.

I want to thank, again, my constituents for the honor. I especially want to thank my family, my parents and my sisters and brothers and my friends who have been patient and understanding when I couldn’t be at birthday parties and volleyball games.

I want to thank my daughter, who was raised in the House. She came here as a 5-1/2-year-old. She is now going to college, and I am so thrilled that she is emancipated and happy and healthy and a smart young woman. And you should be as proud of her as I am, because you helped raise her.

And I want to thank, especially, my fiance, Jim Cieslak, who I will marry tomorrow. Thank you. It’s hard to be a blushing bride at my age, but l will do my best.

Let me just close and say that no matter where I am serving in government, I will always remember those that sent me here, and I will always be grateful for your trust and support.

I just want to take a second and say that I have been honored to represent the Speaker on the podium, and there’s nothing like having the view from up there. Because the view from up there is of all of you, and that’s the best view I have had, I think, in my life. I will take that in my heart as I go to the state Department.

I want to thank all the people behind the scenes who work so hard to make sure that we do the job that we do. I am not saying goodbye, I am just saying farewell for the time being. I expect I will work with you all very well, but know that this has been the best experience of my life.

God bless you. God bless America.

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »