Apostolic Named to Head Peace Corps

Knight Ridder/Tribune – January 27, 2002
WASHINGTON – The Peace Corps is getting a new director: Gaddi Vasquez, 46, a former supervisor of Orange County, Calif.
The Senate unanimously confirmed Vasquez without a roll call vote Friday. The action came amid Bush administration complaints that the Democrat- controlled Senate has been dragging its feet on the president’s appointees.
“I am pleased that the United States Senate has confirmed my nomination from President Bush,” Vasquez said through a Peace Corps spokeswoman “I look forward to joining the Peace Corps and working with this fine organization that means so much to the world.”
Vasquez’s confirmation didn’t come easily.
While White House officials expressed confidence throughout the process, Vasquez’s lack of international experience, his role in Orange County’s bankruptcy and strong opposition from a group of former corps volunteers were highlighted in a contentious confirmation hearing last fall.
“I’m really disappointed,” said John Coyne, one of the leaders of an Internet-based group of former Peace Corps volunteers called the Committee to Preserve the Peace Corps.
“It’s up to Gaddi Vasquez how he wants to relate to the former volunteers.”
Coyne and other critics say politics rather than policy played the major role in Vasquez’s appointment. An adviser to Bush’s presidential campaign, he transferred $100,000 from his dormant campaign treasury to the Bush effort.
But Vasquez had strong support for the $133,700-a- year job from California’s two Democratic senators. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, spoke passionately in favor of his nomination.
“I think he deserves this chance,” said Boxer, adding that Vasquez promised her he would expand the program. Especially after Sept. 11, she said, “in order to have a world where terrorism doesn’t flourish, we have a lot of work to do to build democracy,” and the Peace Corps can help.

(c) 2002, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).

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