Reckoning Clay Pell’s Undocumented White House Street Creds

AESantos (Tony) August 3, 2014

Democratic candidate for Rhode Island Governor Clay Pell drew a bit of heat over claims made in his Bio. “Director of Strategic Planning for the National Security Council”, that’s a tall handle for someone with little or no previous Washington experience and yet it appears prominently as standard Bio information on the Pell for Governor Website. 

Excerpt from the Pell Campaign Website as of this posting:

“After law school, Clay joined the Coast Guard, like his father and grandfather before him. As an officer in a service devoted to helping people and saving lives, Clay had the privilege of leading men and women in uniform. He represented the government as a prosecutor in military courtrooms, and also as a liaison with foreign military personnel from around the world. Clay then joined President Obama’s national security team, serving as director for strategic planning. It was Clay’s job to bring together stakeholders across the federal government –“

And then there’s the Real World:

Pell’s Current White House/Washington experience can be measured in months not years. After graduating Georgetown Law , “Juris Doctor” (2008) Pell served three plus years in United States Coast Guard as a commissioned officer, Lieutenant, JAG (Judge Advocate General). Pell’s White House experience began when he applied for, and received a “White House Fellowship” Class of 2011-2012. Recipients are assigned staff positions to support Senior White House officials. Clay Pell’s placement was with the National Security Staff.  The purpose of the White House Fellows program is to provide gifted and highly motivated young Americans with some first-hand experience in the process of governing the Nation and a sense of personal involvement in the leadership of society
The President’s Commission on White House Fellowships does not appoint Senior Members to the NSC…

     An ABC 6 article by Dee Dequattro “Clay Pell’s Changing Resume”  questioned the validity of Clay Pell’s claim as a “Senior Official” serving on the National Security Council (NSC). Dequattro research determined Pell’s 7 month assignment to NSC was advisor to National Security Advisor and fellow Rhode Islander Tom Donilon. Despite Dequattro’s conclusion , the Pell campaign maintains Clay Pell served as a “Senior Official” “Clay served as director for strategic planning on President Obama’s National Security Council staff. “ 
     Any doubts to the validity of Clay Pell’s White House “Street Creds”, could have been easily dismissed by producing a Press Release or documentation validating his appointment to NSC Senior staff. To date none have been offered.  Folks in Washington will issue a “Press Release” at the opening of a letter, yet no releases, announcements, or links referencing Pell’s assignment to NSC as a Senior Officer are available. To lend the benefit of doubt to Pell’s Undocumented” status as Director of Strategic Planning no doubt questions Washington’s wisdom in appointing a Senior Official to the National Security Council with no previous experience.

January 2011- March 2012

If Clay Pell served as director during this period than the office of Director of Strategic Planning must have been crowded that year. Derek Chollet, State Department Deputy Policy Director (they love a big title Downtown) was assigned the post of Senior Director of Strategic Planning National Security Council  … Chollet’s D.C. tenure spans near two decades and packs an extensive list of Washington Street Creds requisite to the position . This excerpt from Politico is a chip off a Clay Pell Bio
Politico: “In his new post, Derek will take on a critical role working with Tom Donilon and senior national security staff to help advance key strategic priorities for the President .”

     The difference between an advisor and Senior Staff member assigned to NSC is as wide as a country mile, yet Clay Pell maintains his service on the NSC as a Senior Official…. “I characterized that as being a senior official. I believe that is accurate. And absolutely consistent with the work that I did,” “I am proud of my service in the White House. I served as Director of Strategic Planning for President Obama,”.  There’s little doubt Clay Pell’s hope is to reclaim his grandfather’s legacy Senate seat in Washington.   Whether campaigning for the Governor’s seat on Smith Hill, or a Senate seat on Capitol Hill, Pell’s undocumented White House Credentials remain a loose thread and a recurring challenge to his credibility, and integrity.

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  1. James R. Pannozzi

    Thank you for providing a dose of reality. The governor’s seat in the old days would be a shoe-in for this guy with his family background and impressive credentials. But Rhode Island has suffered under generations of well meaning rich kids who used the state as a stepping stone to greater things.

    Rhode Island no longer needs elitists in its government. It never did. The long term stagnation and economic failure of the state can be directly attributable to a failure of long term strategic planning coupled with good intentions and endless committees, neopotism, friends of friends ad nauseum. Rhode Island needs REAL Rhode Islanders who have slogged through the snow, stood in the unemployment line, ran a small business and struggled to make ends meet, gotten ripped off by a Sears car repair center, been unable to get to college to advance themselves because of cost, or because the only viable state U. extension was torn down to make way for a mall while the main state U. is stuck down in a corner of the state in the middle of nowhere, and searched for better jobs in a state which has taxed businesses right out the doorway to somewhere else.

    Some years ago, another elitist came up with the “Green” plan and there have been others. Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t he paid some absurd amount for that or was it done gratis ? If so, the only “Green” extant was to the plan’s creator.

    When the average Rhode Islander wakes up that some Ivy Leaguer does NOT necessarily make a good governor or representative or senator and that coming from some Newport family whose ancestors came here hundreds of years ago doesn’t mean a damn thing, even if they own hundreds of acres including the land Fort Ticonderoga stands on, then the state will be ready to shut down the status quo machine, the machine that provides comfortable careers and endless coffee breaks on the taxpayers dime while doing what it does best, NOTHING.