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US ambassador to Sweden to step down

David Landes · 29 Apr 2011, 19:26

Published: 29 Apr 2011 19:26 GMT+02:00

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In making the announcement, published in a post on Barzun's blog, the US ambassador said he was "honoured" to be asked to serve as chair of Obama's National Finance Committee, but regretted the decision would cut short his time in Sweden.

"I am honored to be asked to serve in this new capacity, and am accepting the president’s call," Barzun wrote.

"However, because of the nature of American presidential elections, it means I will have to leave this post all too soon -- at the end of May.

When asked by The Local, the US Embassy provided this additional comment from ambassador Barzun.

“I am honored to be tasked with a new mission by the president. It will be a great challenge, but it's one that begins for me on June 1st, not today. Until then, I remain ambassador to Sweden with my full attention devoted to this vital work.”

Barzun arrived in Stockholm in August 2009, having being named Obama's top envoy in June after playing a vital fundraising role for the US president's successful 2008 election campaign.

During his time serving on the National Finance Committee for the 2008 campaign, Barzun helped pioneer grassroots fundraising events which catered to small donors.

“The idea was, ‘Don’t just go after people who can write $2,000 checks, let them write checks for $25’,” he told The Local in a December 2009 interview .

According to statistics from the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research organization that tracks money in politics, Barzun helped raisemore than $500,000 for the Obama campaign during the 2008 election cycle.

Part of the total raised by Barzun included more than $290,000 in overall contributions from Barzun and his family to various Democratic candidates, party organizations and political action committees (PACs).

The nearly $300,000 given by Barzun and his family put him as the sixth highest contributor to Obama’s campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

During his time in Stockholm, Barzun has worked to sustain cooperation between the United States and Sweden in promoting green technologies, establishing the Swedish American Green Alliance (SAGA) in February 2010.

"To meet our urgent climate challenge we must spread ideas faster, and the best vehicle ever devised for this is still story telling. We want to develop and share success stories around sustainability -- and do so as quickly as possible -- in order to carry our common SAGA forward," Barzun said at the time.

In announcing his empending departure, Barzun again praised Sweden's efforts to promote climate-friendly solutions and commitment to acting on the global stage.

Story continues below…

"From Sweden’s leadership in sustainability and clean energy to its deep sense of international responsibility, as we have seen most recently in Libya, to the sense of balance embedded in the Swedish national character, I have soaked it all up and become forever enriched," he wrote.

Born in New York, Barzun was raised in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard before joining CNET in 1993, helping the company to capitalize on the internet’s rising popularity.

After a successful initial public offering in 1996, CNET was later purchased by US broadcasting giant CBS for $1.8 billion in 2008, by which time Barzun had risen to the position of executive vice president.

Barzun is married to Brooke Brown Barzun, a native of Lexington, Kentucky. The couple have three children.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:13 April 29, 2011 by technoviking
US Ambassador / Drunken Andy Richter Impersonator to Step Down
21:25 April 29, 2011 by DJECKY
21:46 April 29, 2011 by Gletta
Obama's top envoy - and he got Sweden.
22:59 April 29, 2011 by superturbo
so now he'll be a propaganda minister instead...
23:08 April 29, 2011 by johnny1939
Keep the post empty!! As a matter of fact get rid of that place altogether
00:53 April 30, 2011 by StockholmSam
@Gletta, more than likely he chose Sweden. They don't just get sent somewhere, they request posts. Or they are given a list of choices.
03:15 April 30, 2011 by Syftfel
Hopefully the next one will not be a democrat.
10:24 April 30, 2011 by Gletta
Yes I agree Stockholm Sam so if you are the 'best envoy' why choose Sweden?
10:27 April 30, 2011 by technoviking
@ Gletta

Because it's super nice in Sweden and it's not a sweltering hellhole full of savages trying to kill you... Or at least not as many.
15:19 April 30, 2011 by Iraniboy

How long have been living in Sweden? Haven't you realized yet that Republican ideologies are considered bigotry and backwardness among the vast majority of Swedes?
16:15 April 30, 2011 by Satch
The former ambassador to Sweden (appointed by Bush) established a post in Stockholm which works actively with sharing and learning between the US and Sweden regarding technological and now environmentally friendly issues. Barzun was a perfect choice since the Stockholm post is not just about figurehead socializing.
17:18 April 30, 2011 by cogito
So he paid for his ambassadorship--but not enough. Obama wants even more money this time. Maybe if Barzun delivers the goods, he'll be rewarded with London.
18:00 April 30, 2011 by technoviking
@ Iraniboy

Maybe that post would be meaningful coming from an actual Swede...
18:41 April 30, 2011 by Gletta
@ technoviking

IMHO the 'top envoy' goes to the most challenging places and makes a difference, the lazy go where it is easy. Seems this bloke took the easy choice which in my book does not make him a top envoy.
22:31 April 30, 2011 by johnny1939
What happens if Obama loses the election? Oh well Barzun is very, very rich and he can find something to do. It is disgusting that nobody can win anything in the States w/o being super rich or have super rich backing like Mr. Soros. I wonder why Barzun doesn't invest in a better rug? The one he wears is to "bushy" and fake looking.
09:13 May 1, 2011 by Iraniboy

Not really! Given that I have met more than a thousand of Swedes, you will make it the first person who support republicans! For the most Swedes, this is just a barbaric, backward and arrogant policy.
11:20 May 1, 2011 by johnny1939
Both Democrats and Republicans are war mongers so what is the difference for the rest of the world who wins?
15:11 May 1, 2011 by cogito

"barbaric, backward..."

Errr, maybe that reveals more about Swedes (or at least the sort you meet) than it does about the Republicans.
16:59 May 8, 2011 by SimonDMontfort
..and the best of luck Mr Ambassador.

Wonder if you are hoping that any future office you work from, is as safe as the one you are leaving?....just a thought
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