Howard Gutman

Howard William Gutman (born July 8, 1956) is a lawyer, actor and former United States Ambassador to Belgium. After being nominated as Ambassador by United States President Barack Obama, Gutman was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 29, 2009, and sworn in as Ambassador on August 14, 2009.[2][3]

Howard Gutman
Howard W. Gutman.jpg
33rd United States Ambassador to Belgium
In office
August 14, 2009 – July 23, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded bySam Fox
Succeeded byDenise Bauer
Personal details
Howard William Gutman

(1956-07-08) July 8, 1956 (age 63)[1]
Bronx, New York City, New York, United States
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Michelle Phyllis Loewinger
Alma materColumbia University;
Harvard Law School
OccupationAmbassador, actor, attorney

Early life and educationEdit

Gutman is the son of Polish immigrant and Holocaust survivor Max Gutman, who worked in New York's garment district. He attended public elementary schools and then the Bronx High School of Science in New York. Gutman is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University (1977) and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School (1980).



Gutman clerked for Judge Irving Loeb Goldberg on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1980–1981). After that, he joined the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He left the firm to clerk for Justice Potter Stewart on the United States Supreme Court.

After clerking, in 1982, Gutman joined the Washington, D.C., law firm of Williams & Connolly LLP. He left the firm in 1985 to become Special Assistant to F.B.I. Director William H. Webster, focusing on counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.[3] Gutman rejoined Williams & Connolly in 1986, and in 1988, Gutman became a partner at the firm, where he focused on commercial litigation, including securities, contracts, antitrust, labor, banking, real estate, intellectual property, insurance coverage, international law, and partnership disputes.

Gutman represented a wide variety of clients during his 25-year career, including acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and many states' attorneys general in suits against Microsoft Corporation. Gutman also once represented Susan Rosenberg, a former member of the Weather Underground accused, but never indicted or convicted, in the 1981 Brinks robbery in post-conviction, constitutional litigation. Gutman also provided representation to Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, a former Bolivian president, and José Carlos Sánchez Berzain, a defense minister, who were sued in American courts by Bolivians following an attempted coup in Bolivia. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently dismissed the case against Sánchez de Lozada and Sánchez Berzain.[4]


Gutman has long been active in Democratic politics, working on policy issues, speech writing, constituency work, legal representation, and media. He also has helped raise money for Democratic presidential, gubernatorial, and congressional candidates, including Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000. Gutman served on the legal team representing Gore in the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore.

According to, in 2008, Gutman was part of the Obama National Finance Committee and later a trustee on the Presidential Inauguration Committee. Gutman and his wife, Michelle Loewinger, have contributed at least $86,150 to Democratic candidates, parties and committees since 1989. Gutman contributed the legal maximum of $2300 to Bill Clinton's presidential bid. Both he and his wife contributed the legal maximum of $4600 a piece to Obama's presidential run. Gutman bundled at least half a million for Obama's campaign committee and another $275,000 for his inauguration.[5]

Ambassadorship to BelgiumEdit

Gutman has been dubbed by one Belgian newspaper as "the most popular ambassador ever in Belgium"[6] and is the second longest serving U.S. Ambassador to Belgium in the last 35 years.[7] The Flemish municipality of Buggenhout erected a monument marking the Ambassador's visit to the municipality. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) placed Gutman's poem, given on Memorial Day at Flanders Field, into the Congressional Record.[8] Among his 100+ television appearances in Belgium,[7] Gutman was chosen to present the final award at the Belgian Music Industry Awards. On September 7, 2011, Le Soir, a leading Belgian newspaper, ran a major profile entitled: "The Ambassador Who Makes Us Love America Again."[9] Noting the change in Belgian-American relations, one Belgian newspaper stated that "there is no doubt that [Ambassador Gutman] would be elected if he were to run at a [Belgian] election."[10]

He also had the goal of visiting each of the 589 municipalities in Belgium. His intention was not only to visit managers and politicians, but also ordinary citizens and employees. On May 5, 2013, he completed his tour when he visited the last municipality on his list, Voeren. Gutman left his post as ambassador on July 23, 2013.[11]

Antisemitism speechEdit

Speaking at a legal conference on antisemitism organized by the European Jewish Union on November 30, 2011, Gutman talked about historic antisemitism, as well as a trend he described as "a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension ... in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem". He added that "an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism."[12] The comments were then misquoted in what Salon, the Economist and Mother Jones then demonstrated was a "woefully inaccurate account of his remarks."[13][14][15] Reliance on the misquotes led to high-profile criticism from a number of rival politicians, including Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry[16] as well as Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League.[17] Gutman issued a statement saying, "I deeply regret if my comments were taken the wrong way", highlighting his history of condemning and combating anti-semitism, and making reference to his background as the son of a Holocaust survivor.[18] The subsequent press demonstrated both that Ambassador Gutman had been misquoted and the accuracy of his speech.[13][15][19][20] Lubavitch Chabad leader Rabbi Levi Shemtov also came to the defense of Ambassador Gutman, citing his service to the Jewish community and noting that calling Ambassador Gutman an "anti-Semite" was like calling Rabbi Shemtov an "astronaut." At the end of his ambassadorship, Ambassador Gutman won the European Jewish Union Building's Prize for Friendship and Service to the Jewish Community. Currently, Howard Gutman is on the Regional Board of the American Jewish Committee Washington D.C.[21]

Allegations of sexual misconductEdit

An alleged State Department whistleblower alleged that an Inspector General's report accused Gutman of soliciting prostitutes and minors for sex while serving as Ambassador, but that Undersecretary of State Patrick F. Kennedy ordered it removed from the report.[22] Gutman denied the accusations as "baseless" and the State Department adamantly denied that any allegations of questionable or illegal behavior by diplomats have been covered up, and that any proven wrongdoing would be punished administratively or prosecuted criminally.[23] On June 11, 2013, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that the allegations were under active investigation by an independent inspector general.[24][25][26] Despite these allegations, Gutman served his full term, including representing the United States at the invocation of the new Belgian King on July 21, 2013.[27] On June 21, 2013, the White House announced Denise Bauer as the new nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Belgium.

After his completion of service, when he was free to talk, Gutman appeared on a popular Belgian talk show, Reyers Laat [nl], and addressed the allegations - calling them "nonsense" - towards the end of his ambassadorship and explained his recollection of the events in question.[27] Finally, in October 2014, the State Department investigation cleared Gutman and issued the following Statement in apology: "The Inspector General's report makes clear there was no wrongdoing and that the allegations wrongfully leaked from internal OIG documents were in fact unsubstantiated. It can't erase the pain these leaks caused those public servants who were falsely accused, but it does vindicate them and puts an end to a painful chapter for many. Most importantly, the report concludes there is 'no systemic problem' in the Department's investigations. The irresponsible leaks did not occur on the watch of this Inspector General, but we appreciate that he has brought this difficult story to a conclusion."[28][29][30][31]


Post AmbassadorshipEdit

Gutman is currently the Managing Director of The Gutman Group, a consulting, advisory and investment firm focused on resolving corporate issues, fostering cross-border investment, market access, venture capital, international relations and more. The Gutman Group focuses largely on the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Ambassador Gutman also serves on the boards of several companies, including Exmar, a publicly traded LNG/LPG shipper and liquefactor, a DTH Capital, a NY real estate company largely owned by Ageas Insurance as well as several senior advisor positions for both US and European based companies.[33] Ambassador Gutman is a frequent speaker including at recent investor conferences in London and Copenhagen; delivered the keynote speech at the Brussels Sustainable Development Summit in October 2015 and speaks often at annual foundation and organization meetings.[34] He has appeared several times recently on the Fox Network and on Belgian television providing commentary about the 2016 election. Gutman has been awarded the "Grand-Cross in the Order of the Crown", the second highest civilian medal awarded by Belgium.

Popular cultureEdit

In the pressEdit

Gutman wrote a first-person account of the time in Belgium, reviewing the successes and the difficulties of public service in the age of bloggers.[35] The story was covered in the Washington Post Sunday magazine on July 19, 2015.[35] In the article, Gutman revealed that during the flotilla dispute between Israel and Turkey, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan secretly sent a Turkish Minister to Belgium to ask him to open a back-channel negotiation between Turkey and Israel.

Media appearancesEdit

Among the media work Gutman performed during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, Gutman was a frequent contributor to Fox News. Gutman also acted in several episodes of the HBO series K Street, Tim Robbins' film Noise and the 2009 film Fame.[2][36]


  1. ^ Brinkerhoff, Noel. "Ambassador to Belgium: Who is Howard Gutman?". Retrieved October 12, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Biography:Howard W. Gutman". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on October 17, 2009. Retrieved October 12, 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Dr. Loewinger Is Bride Of Howard W. Gutman". New York Times. October 4, 1981. Retrieved October 12, 2009.
  4. ^ "Eleventh Circuit Dismisses ATS Suit Against Senior Bolivian Officials". InterAmerican Security Watch. September 2, 2011. Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  5. ^ Michael Beckel (June 18, 2009). "Obama's New Ambassador Nominees Gave Big -- and Bundled Bigger". Open Secrets.
  6. ^ Hans Vandeweghe [nl] (December 23, 2010). "Belgium is a Strong Brand". Het Nieuwsblad.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b "Lessons from Belgium's Favorite American Ambassador". The Politic. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  8. ^ "NEVER TO FORGET". Congressional Record. United States Congress. June 7, 2011. p. S3537.
  9. ^ Le Soir Magazine, September 7, 2011
  10. ^ "Howard Gutman". La Libre. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  11. ^ "Gutman beëindigt Belgische tournee". De Standaard (in Dutch). Retrieved May 6, 2013.
  12. ^ Menachem Gantz (December 3, 2011). "'Jew-hate stems from conflict'". YnetNews. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Elliot, Justin. "An Ambassador Smeared". Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  14. ^ Serwer, Adam. "Republicans Go After...Obama's Ambassador to Belgium?". Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Prejudice and Politics". December 6, 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  16. ^ "Quote on Anti-Semitism Misattributed to U.S. Ambassador Doesn't Ease Criticism". Fox News. New York City: News Corp. December 6, 2011.
  17. ^ Harman, Danna (December 4, 2011). "Jewish groups demand Obama action over Belgium envoy's anti-Semitism remarks". Haaretz. Tel Aviv, Israel: Schocken Family. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  18. ^ U.S. Embassy Brussels. "Press Release". Statement by Ambassador Howard Gutman. Archived from the original on January 8, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  19. ^ Server, Adam. "Republicas Go After...Obama's Ambassador to Belgium?". Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  20. ^ Berenbaum, Dr. Michael. "Was Howard Gutman Right?: Israel and Antisemitism, What Do We Know". Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  21. ^ "AJC Washington Regional Office Roster 2015 - 2016". American Jewish Committee Washington D.C. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  22. ^ Miller, S.A. (June 11, 2013). "Hillary's sorry state of affairs; Probes into her department's sex scandals were quashed, memo says".
  23. ^ "U.S. ambassador Howard Gutman slams park prostitution allegations". New York: June 11, 2013.
  24. ^ "Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 6/11/2013". June 11, 2013.
  25. ^ "New U.S. Amb. to Belgium Announced After Accusations of Soliciting Underage Prostitutes". June 21, 2013.
  26. ^ Miller, S.A. (June 11, 2013). "Officials at Hillary Clinton's State Dept. accused of covering up sexual misconduct -". New York Post.
  27. ^ a b Gutman, Howard (March 27, 2014). Gutman: "In Belgium you make friends for life" (Television production). Belgium. Event occurs at 4:11.
  28. ^ "The Nelson Report". Samuels International Associates, Inc. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  29. ^ "Ex-ambassadeur Gutman krijgt excuses na seksschandaal". October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  30. ^ "Gutman krijgt excuses van Buitenlandse Zaken". De Standaard. October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  31. ^ "State Department apologises to Gutman".
  32. ^ "L'ancien ambassadeur américain Howard Gutman décoré de l'Ordre de la Couronne". May 8, 2017.
  33. ^ "Howard Gutman Official Homepage". Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  34. ^ "Howard Gutman". London Speaker Bureau. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  35. ^ a b Gutman, Howard (July 16, 2015). "The ambassador's tale: Lessons I learned about success and scandal". Washington Post. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  36. ^ "Howard Gutman". IMDB. Retrieved October 12, 2009.

  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State document: "Biography:Howard W. Gutman".

External linksEdit

  Media related to Howard Gutman at Wikimedia Commons

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Wayne Bush
United States Ambassador to Belgium
Succeeded by
Denise Bauer