Sepulveda Nominated Ambassador

Former top Kerry Senate aide is now top State ITU treaty negotiator
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Former top Senate Communications Subcommittee advisor Danny Sepulveda has been nominated by President Obama to the rank of ambassador.

Sepulveda has, since April, been Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Communications and Information Policy at the State Department, where his former boss, former Communications Subcommittee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), is now Secretary of State.

Sepulveda was a senior advisor to Sen. Kerry from 2009 to 2013. Before that he was a legislative assistant to another high-profile member of Congress--then Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Sepulveda's State post did not require presidential appointment or confirmation, but since he will be negotiating international telecom treaties at the International Telecommunications Union, having the ambassador rank will be key to putting him on a similar footing with others negotiating for their countries. Bringing him on before getting the ambassadorship allowed him to hit the ground running rather than wait for confirmation. his predecessors, most recently Phil Verveer, also held the rank of ambassador.

"Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Communications and Information Policy" doesn't sound like one of those positions ripe for high-profile status, but it has been thrust at least partly into the limelight by a congressional and administration focus on preserving the multistakeholder model of Internet governance in the face of efforts by China, Russia, some Arab states and other ITU members to undercut that model.

Another international treaty issue much on the minds of the media these days is border spectrum coordination with Canada and Mexico related to broadcast incentive auctions. Both State and FCC play a role in those, but recently New York's two senators wrote Secretary Kerry asking that State weigh in "at a very high" level to insure the success of that coordination, which could affect New York viewers along the Canadian border.

“On behalf of AT&T I want to congratulate Danny Sepulveda for his nomination to become Ambassador for International Communications and Information Policy," said Len Cali, AT&T SVP of global public policy. "We have had the pleasure of working with Danny on many important issues, and he possesses the experience, expertise and commitment to expanding communications services that will serve him well in this important position. We look forward to working together.”

The Secretary of State has a good working, and playing, relationship with Sepulveda according to a source familiar with both. They are cancer survivors, and then-Sen. Kerry is said to have been fond of relating a story about when he discovered Sepulveda was also a bicycle enthusiast.

Kerry invited him on a ride that turned into a race. The senator won.

Either Kerry was the better cyclist, or perhaps Sepulveda was already practicing the diplomatic skills he will need in his new post.