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Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friend of a great many times Haitian-American millionaire, Simeus, may be appointed as U.S.'s Haiti new ambassador, ending Sanderson's tenure
By John-Laurent Tronche

A North Texas businessman, whom many think will be appointed a U.S. ambassador in President George W. Bush’s final year in office, said his candidacy for that position is not politically motivated, but instead a reflection of a recent trend – and maybe even a thank you gesture.

Doug Tabor, a major stockholder in a Grapevine-based shipping company, Airgroup, said he’s heard the rumors, but could not say if and when he would be named an ambassador to either Haiti or Qatar.

Despite the uncertainty, Tabor said he fits the recent characteristics of a U.S. ambassador – young, entrepreneurial and experienced in international business – and would enjoy the opportunity to represent the United States abroad.

“I’ve studied the profile of an ambassador, what they look for,” said Tabor, 43. “A lot happen to come from [the Metroplex] because, if you look at the profile, someone who is 50 to 55, has ran their own small to medium business – they can go out and communicate free-enterprise, American dream.”

A White House Media Affairs representative said the office would not “confirm, deny or speculate” on presidential appointments. When the appointment is made, he said, the office would report it.

Ambassador Chase Untermeyer concluded a three-year tenure in Qatar in August 2007. Janet A. Sanderson was appointed U.S. ambassador to Haiti in 2006, and is still serving in that position.

Tabor estimates he’s visited about 75 countries on business, and has paid particular attention to Haiti, where a friend and fellow North Texas businessman ran an unsuccessful bid for president in 2006.

“[Doug] was a great adviser to us, he helped raise money for the campaign,” said Dumarsais “Dumas” Siméus, a Southlake resident and contender in Haiti’s 2006 presidential elections. “He was able to use connections to get [U.S. Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice to go to Haiti and to urge the interim government to allow all Haitians to run regardless of if they had dual citizenship.”

Siméus’ U.S citizenship, along with other constitutional roadblocks, rendered him ineligible for the Haitian elections, according to reports.

Mayor of Southlake Andy Wambsganss, a friend of Tabor and fellow fund-raiser for Siméus’ 2006 campaign, said Tabor’s personality and personal success story are his credentials for an ambassadorship.

“His business background plus his empathy for other people – he’s constantly involved in charitable missions, domestically and internationally,” Wambsganss said. “He’d be an ideal person who would be able to tell a little bit of the American story.”

A friend in high places

When President Bush first ran for Texas governor in 1994, Tabor said, as a friend and fellow North Texas businessman, he helped Bush gain exposure and allies that may have helped him unseat then-Gov. Ann Richards.

A Tabor-produced, promotional audio program that played on American Airlines flights featured Bush, who at the time was a managing general partner of the Texas Rangers, and provided him a spotlight to keep his name in the public during the campaign.

Additionally, Tabor also put Bush in contact with representatives of Wood and Henderson counties, both in East Texas, who helped Bush win over the largely Democratic-voting districts.

“If you help him, in his mind, he’ll return the favor,” said Tabor of Bush. “He’s got a great memory.”

If Tabor is appointed ambassador, he would follow in the footsteps of ambassadors J. Thomas Schieffer and Antonio O. Garza Jr., of Japan and Mexico, respectively. Both men are Texas-born and have worked with Bush in the past.

Qualified for the job

Frequently, Tabor said, people accept ambassador appointments because they need a job or money.

“I don’t need to worry about either of those two situations,” he said. “This is not a stepping stone to a political career.”

As for preference, Tabor said he would enjoy either country, but added a U.S. ambassador would have more influence in a third-world country, such as Haiti, rather than in a developed country with a business model already in motion, such as Qatar.

“Doug is a great guy and he would make a fine ambassador anywhere,” Siméus said, “but especially in an underdeveloped country because of his sensitivity to those people who are less fortunate than us.”

Siméus said he is “sworn to secrecy” about who initially said Tabor is a candidate for the ambassadorship.

Former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, who also declined to say how he heard about Tabor’s candidacy, echoes those sentiments of Siméus and Wambsganss: Doug Tabor is the man for the job.

“He’d be a good candidate because No. 1 he loves this country,” Williams said. “He understands what this country was built on and understands its history. And those things are very important when you go to represent America overseas. Those things in themselves make him a very good candidate to represent America.”

Contact Tronche at jtronche@bizpress.net

© Copyright 2008 - The Fort Worth Business Press. Published Friday, February 22, 2008.

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