by Peter Freyne
The current U.S. Ambassador to the Slovak Republic was home in Vermont over the weekend to pay respects to his "first boss and mentor," as he described him: the late U.S. Sen. Robert T. Stafford.
Way back in 1982 after graduating Williams College, Ambassador Skip Vallee started out as Stafford’s southern Vermont regional campaign manager. He then went to Washington and worked for the senator on the education subcommittee
In the 1990s, Skip was CEO of R. J. Vallee fuels and started up Maplefields, the northern Vermont mini-mart chain with the fresh flowers in the bathrooms. We used to call him “Gasoline Vallee” in the ‘Inside Track” column.
He loved it!
Skip was Vermont’s Republican National Committeeman (1999-2004) and his outstanding fundraising on behalf of George W. Bush in the 2004 camapign was, in addition to his political smarts, the reason Dubya made him an ambassador. He also has a sense of humor - an invaluable trait in a politician.
We thought we’d squeeze him into this week’s print column but other things popped up. Sorry, Mr. Ambassador.
Asked to comment on remarks of freshman Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ambassador Vallee pointed out that he had been taught that “Ambassadorial trap No. 1 is to make a comment on something a sitting member of Congress has said.”
Skip said the days in Slovakia are long and “chock full of events.” He said it’s “important” for him to be “out in the country,” playing soccer or ice hockey. He’s already visited 150 towns, cities and villages.
Wonder if they have Maplefields mini-marts yet?
Asked how long he'll be plying the ambassadorial trade, Vallee said he "serves at the pleasure of the president."
Check out this interview with the Vermonter, born and raised in Franklin County, in the Slovak press.