The Great Anne Wexler Has Sadly Passed


keatings twn.jpg(post-2007 Australian American Leadership Dialogue Dinner: Anne Keating, Anne Wexler, Steve Clemons, Lesley Russell, Bruce Wolpe, Former Prime Minister Paul Keating; photo credit: Ambassador Joseph Duffey)
One of the people who opened many otherwise closed doors for me in Washington, DC is Anne Wexler — an amazing politico in Washington married to the equally peripatetic former USIA Director Joseph Duffey.
Anne passed away this morning after a long and valiant fight with cancer. I’m off on Tuesday next week to Melbourne and Sydney to participate in the Australian American Leadership Dialogue which Anne Wexler helped to found and would not have been brought into this interesting group without her strong support.
There were many of the great and the good who have been stopping in to see Anne these last few weeks. I know that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton both spent time with Anne as well — and she left feeling quite whole and good about her amazing life.
I will very much miss Anne who was a great friend and really special to me.
She was an enormous supporter of my work and this blog.
— Steve Clemons
From her bio:

Anne Wexler is widely recognized as one of the top lobbyists in Washington. As recently as April 2008, she was named as one of the “Best in the Business: Hired Guns” by The Hill newspaper. In October, 2007, she was recognized as one of Washington’s Top”Power 150″ by Washingtonian magazine. The Washingtonian identified Ms. Wexler as one of only 13 lobbyists on the list of Washingtonians who “make things happen.” Washingtonian has also named Ms. Wexler as one of Washington’s 10 most powerful lobbyists.
Ms. Wexler served as an Assistant to President Carter for Public Liaison from 1978-1981. As his chief deputy charged with building support for White House programs and policies, Ms. Wexler is credited with ushering in a new form of public advocacy by engaging the strategic use of outside coalitions and grassroots networks.
Previously, Ms. Wexler served as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce, coordinating the department’s programs and field operations and directing the department’s Office of State and Local Governments. During her tenure at Commerce, Ms. Wexler also served as Chair of the President’s Task Force on Women Business Owners.
Ms. Wexler currently serves as a Director of the Dreyfus Family of Funds. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the Boards of the Washington Economic Club, The Community Foundation, the National Parks and Conservation Association and WETA, Washington’s Public Broadcasting Station.
In 1989, Ms. Wexler received the Bryce Harlow Award, presented annually to the government relations professional representing the highest standards of integrity and excellence. In 2002, Wexler received the Order of Australia in recognition of her distinguished service in the pursuit of American-Australian relations, an honor seldom conferred on non-Australians.
Ms. Wexler received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Skidmore College. Skidmore also awarded her the Outstanding Alumni Award in 1972 and the Most Distinguished Alumni Award in 1984. She holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Skidmore College and an Honorary Doctor of Science in Business Administration from Bryant College. She is married to Dr. Joseph Duffey, Senior Vice President of Laureate Education, Inc.


19 comments on “The Great Anne Wexler Has Sadly Passed

  1. David says:

    Think I first learned about David Brock on Democracy Now. Might have seen him on the Al Franken Show on Sundance Channel. Read the book as soon as it came out. Excellent sourcebook.
    Yeah, this is a highly orchestrated noise campaign straight out of one of the big Washington pr firms, and is of a piece with the vote recount “riots” in Miami-Dade County during the 2000 recount. What flabbergasts me is that the machine can continue to play the media like a cheap violon, and get away with it. Sarah Palin is now nothing more than a demagogue in pageant guise. Disturbing thing is that she continues to get an audience and all the media attention anyone could hope for. And she’s not even required to be coherent. Of course neither was 43.
    I suspect we liberals are ultimately too civilized for contemporary America.


  2. Kathleen says:

    David..if you want to “understamd” the Ruckus at the town hall meetings, read David Brock’s “The Republican Noise Machine”….


  3. David says:

    We are on the upswing, but so are the rabid reactionaries. Cannot believe what the town hall terrorists are getting away with, and with the blessing of the Republican national machine.
    As John Dingell said, last time we were treated to anything like this was when Congress passed that historic civil rights legislation in the mid-60s. Just like Joe McCarthy, these people have not shame, including their marketable new demagogue, Sarah Palin.
    Some polity.


  4. Kathleen says:

    David…I lived in the South for a few years a very long time ago…it was an experience…not so many liberal Dems around…hope your numbers increase…I’m so glad I discovered the ProPublica site…now I can follow that TARP money…that does tickle my curiosity…it could be the new bee in my bonnet.


  5. David says:

    I am Southern to the core, so as a Southerner let me say Pleased to be of any assistance I can, ma’am.
    I am also a fiercely proud, utterly unreconstructed liberal Democrat. The American conservative movement is a mental disorder.


  6. Kathleen says:

    Incidentally, the last major discussions I had with Anne on current political questions were who CT. Dems should run against Joe Lieberman next time round and whether Chris Dodd was in trouble this time round.
    Anne knew I was profoundly opposed to CT. AG Richard Blumenthal because of his record in the state on civil rights…not just for African- Americans but our Native American population in CT. especially….as an “informed party”, I had access to all the primary documents in the Federal Recognition Process of several CT. Indian Tribes and evidence of Blumenthal’s conduct in that process. He won the latest rounds because of Gail Norton…need I say more???
    I proposed Congresswoman Rosa Delauro and Anne agreed, she was a good choice for CT.
    On Chris Dodd’s situation, we disagreed…she thought he’d be fine…I thought he got into trouble when he moved his family to Iowa for a year. Voters in CT. were used to great accessibility with Dodd…when he married and had children he became less available and when he moved to Iowa, it’s been a downhill slide in the polls. My problem with Dodd was his party-line on impeachment of Busholini and Darth “off the table”. In the State that gave Dopey and Darth the highest disapproval ratings in the country, this was not representing his constituents.
    Then came the news of the ‘sweetheart deal” with Country-Wide, the disappearance of the ban on CEO bonuses from the latest bailout bucks…here’s a link to an editorial in a large CT. paper that usually endorses him…the Editor suggests that Dodd, as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, should have asked more questions about the terms of his mortgage. I guess “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” works in lots of ways.
    Dodd, Ethics, Money, Political Influence…
    Joe Duffey ran against Senator Tom Dodd in 1970 and won the nomination, but lost in a 3-way race to Republican Lowell Weicker, who mercifully called for the Watergate Hearings.
    Contrast that with the treatment of non VIP’s..
    Not a pretty picture…only time will tell..


  7. Kathleen says:’re cheerig me up…thanx.


  8. David says:

    Whackahypocrite – I like it, Kathleen


  9. Gabriela says:

    You will be missed..I worked for the Wexler Group back in the 90’s. She will be missed…she taught me to be strong and never give up for what I believed in..she left a lasting impression in me that has lasted me my life time.


  10. Kathleen says:

    David…from the chin up, I agree…from the chin down…my heart is just repulsed by all the insincerity…but maybe I just need a little stand back and try to regain the big picture….I always end up telling myself, if I quit, they win and we can’t have that….one can always muster up one more good whack at it.


  11. David says:

    I’m 67, Kathleen, a retired teacher.
    What arthurdecco said matches quite closely what I think at this point. I also have always held to that loosely Latinized credo “Ne illegitimi no carborudum.” And batards they are, to borrow loosely from the French this time.
    I follow Tom Englehardt’s website pretty closely as well (along with the absolutely essential TPM), and once e-mailed him to thank him for TomDispatch and ask him how he keeps going. I said that for me it is like the story of the Chinese pilot whose 747 was in what should have been a fatal spin for him, the crew, and the passengers, but he just kept flying the plane. It is actually a much more amazing story than what Sully did, but both of them are obviously cut from the same cloth.
    You just keep flying the plane regardless. Do it for Anne and all the Annes out there.


  12. Kathleen says:

    David…I must be older than you…my spirit is weary right now…it’s not the right wing nuttery that gets me…it’s the Dems’ refusal to look at crimal conduct in gov’t.We cannot be equal before the law if those in power do not uphold the law when it comes to themselves. Wanting to look forward, not backward, was not part of anyone’s oath of office…defending our Constitution is.
    Arthurdecco….I thought we were arming ourselves with facts and presenting then for the last eight years….Rahm’s strategy seems to be “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”, regardless of the facts, because bi-partisanship is the new credo. Well. bi-partisan, bi-smartisan…we all voted overwhelmingly to reject Repugs, so why so much enmphasis on what that shrinking minority doesn’t want? This whole lasisez faire attitude towards the transgressions of the past administration and the current moguls of money, in my opinion, is a crime.
    Earth to Rahm…we’ll take bi-smartisanship, thank you very much…you can keep your bi-partisanship…it’s the new polio.
    arthurdecco…I’m hoping that stepping back and taking a long hard look at things will give me a fresh perspective….perhaps I’ve been too close to the nitty-gritty details for too long…one thing’s for sure…without Anne, it’s going to be a whole lot harder for me.


  13. arthurdecco says:

    Katherine said: “arthurdecco…good to see you…I’ve been AWOL for months now…mainly vision issues but also I’ve been heartsick really, that Dems are so reluctant to uphold the rule of law for political reasons and refuse to hold Busholini and Darth accountable. I’m finding it impossible to see the point anymore…”
    Don’t let them take your eyes off the ball, Katherine. Don’t allow your heartsickness to divert your attention from the important issues. What is important is to assemble enough information to incriminate those responsible for the deliberate destruction of your particular American version of democracy. And then strike with that information once the tide turns. As it always does…


  14. David says:

    These remembrances serve as a powerful reminder that not everyone in Washington is a self-serving, short-sighted, utterly misguided blight on the concept of public service.
    Kathleen, I understand your very deep frustration and sense of potential betrayal, but hold on at least just a little longer. Frankly, I suspect these teabagger political terrorist henchpersons are about to stiffen some Democratic backbones, and once they find their spines, who knows what all they will find themselves finally acting on?
    I think one of the most telling bellweathers for our future will be the Senate race in California. If Barbara Boxer is re-elected, which re-election she has earned hands down, America is still essentially pointing itself aright. If Fiorini wins, America is ultimately as politically retarded as the cynic in me at times finds it to be, something expressed in awful terms with the election and re-election of Ronald Reagan.


  15. Kathleen says:

    Sheryl..I remember very well the days when competent women remained “unamed”. In fact when Joe ran for the US Senate from CT. in 1970 it was unheard of to have a woman campaign manager. I begged him to name Anne, which he did but we had to have a male co-campaign manager for the time they were each married to other people…obviously, they were well matched.
    arthurdecco…good to see you…I’ve been AWOL for months now…mainly vision issues but also I’ve been heartsick really, that Dems are so reluctant to uphold the rule of law for political reasons and refuse to hold Busholini and Darth accountable. I’m finding it impossible to see the point anymore…in fact, I’m beginning to think my vision issues are psychosomatically induced…it’s bad enough to see that the bad guys are really bad, but seeing the so-called good guys purposely looking the other way is more than I can stand to see. the good news is that a little cataract surgery should fix my vision, but my faith in our government/system is on life-support…failure to investigate will be like pulling the plug for me.
    More than anything, Anne would have loved to see Hillary be the first woman President.


  16. Sheryl Wilkerson says:

    I was saddened to hear about the passing of one of my
    greatest mentors. I was blessed to work with Anne when she
    started Wexler, Reynolds, Harrison and Schule – one of the
    greatest government relations firms in history. In the 80s, it
    was uncommon for a firm to have three women-named
    partners. I was one of the few who were mentored by these
    three icons in the business: Anne, Nancy Reynolds and Gail
    Harrison. I joined the firm a few years out of college and after
    having worked for the House Energy and Commerce
    Committee. Together these women taught me everything I
    know about being a woman in the field of government and
    public relations: strong ethics, trust, the importance of
    maintaining good bipartisan relationships, and how to build
    coalitions to effectuate change. Anne empowered many other
    young people in the firm. There was neither a task we could
    not do, nor meeting we could not attend. I remember her
    taking me along to breakfast with the late Jack Valenti at MPAA
    and inviting me to meetings with CEOs of Fortune 500
    companies and senior government officials. She was a great
    political strategist and a confidant to many. Politics will never
    be the same without her. I can still see her on the phone,
    sitting at her desk, in the back office in the famous Sun
    Building at 601 F Street, NW. I can also see her warm smile
    and hear her laugh. Anne was a classy lady who knew how to
    balance her family life, philanthropy, and work. One of my
    funniest memories is of the clothing boutiques who would
    bring their wears and the aerobic trainers that would come to
    the firm when she was too busy managing a high profile
    project, family matter, or simply had a hectic schedule. I
    admired her dedication to her family – especially her husband,
    Joe. She would leave the office like clockwork on Thursday or
    Friday to spend a long weekend with him when he was serving
    as Chancellor of UMass Amherst. Anne also surrounded herself
    with many other legends who played a role in building the firm
    and in shaping my career – Dale Snape, Joe Waz, and Bob
    Schule – to name a few. Anne was truly a special person. She
    always found time to return a call or acknowledge an
    accomplishment along the way. I will cherish my memories of
    her and the many invaluable lessons she taught me – forever.
    Sheryl Wilkerson


  17. arthurdecco says:

    Thanks for that, Kathleen.


  18. Kathleen says:

    It’s very sad for me…Anne and Joe have been friends since Gene McCarthy days. Last summer she told me not to worry about her…everything was under control, but more recently she said she was failing and asked me to please stay in touch with her, which I did…we were always on the same wavelength…I feel like I’m missing a body part now…politics will never be the same.
    I remember when I first met Anne..I was a suburban housewife in Westport, CT. and could not stand the body bags in the Vietnam War every day on the news…when the McCarthy headquarters opened in town, I went down to volunteer…I had never worked in politics before so I was thinking I would lick stamps and stuff envelopes. When I arrived, there was only one person there…she was on the phone…after a while she pointed to the next room and said, “Call the Secretary of ?State and ask such and such question’ I turned around to see who she was speaking to and there was no one there. She woman was Anne and I made the call…she always laughed when I told that story…thus began my career…I became the “election law” person. We forced the first primary in CT. history and got enough delegates elected to the State convention to force John Bailey to name 9 of us to the Chicago convention…it was the begining of Joe’s political career…I was the person who asked him to run for US Senate from CT.
    It’s a big loss.


  19. daCascadian says:

    The good ones always seem to leave us far too soon.
    “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” – Gandalf the Grey
    [again a broken Captcha that doesn`t know what it is displaying – second attempt]


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