PUBLISHER Theodore ‘Tod’ Sedgwick of Virginia has been selected to become the new US ambassador to Slovakia. The announcement was made by the White House on January 20. Providing Sedgwick is approved by the US Senate, he will fill one of the last remaining vacancies at America’s European embassies.
Sedgwick donated a reported $28,000 to Democratic Party candidates in 2008, raised over $200,000 for the Obama campaign, and gifted $10,000 to the inauguration. A keen birdhunter, he tried to present the future president as an ally of hunters.
“Maybe on the surface you wouldn’t think that a guy from Chicago would be a natural advocate for sportsmen,” he said at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, “but Obama wants to open up access on public lands to hunting and fishing”.
Sedgwick aimed to organise a chapter of “Sportsmen for Obama” in every state to counter the gun lobby’s portrayal of the candidate as hostile to its interests.
“I won’t argue with anybody that this is an uphill battle,” he said.
In 1978, at the age of 29, Sedgwick was editing the energy sector newsletter Coal Outlook, when the owner suddenly announced he intended to sell. Rather than move on, Sedgwick bought a 70 percent stake in the publication for $70,000.
“My whole motivation for buying the newsletter was protecting my job,” he told the Washington Post.
Over a decade, Sedgwick turned his acquisition into the Pasha Publications publishing house, with 15 newsletters.
“It is rewarding work,” he told the New York Times in 1989. “We do a lot of very arcane stuff of interest just to a specific audience. But when you call a source, they say, ‘You really know what you're talking about.’” In 1998 he sold the energy wing of the publisher to the Financial Times group for $17.8 million.
Sedgwick also took the unusual step of suing a subscriber, the Enmark firm of Dallas, for photocopying his newsletters and distributing them to other offices. Enmark settled out of court.
“Since we don’t take advertising, it’s a real financial issue for us,” said Sedgwick, whose subscribers paid up to $1,000 annually for his publications.
In 1992, on receiving an award, he said of the incident “if there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s that it pays to sue your customers.”
One of Sedgwick’s ancestors, Theodore (1746-1813), was the fifth speaker of the House of Representatives. Another, John Sedgwick, was a general with the Union forces during the US Civil War.
He was killed by a sniper in 1862. According to historical accounts, just before his death General Sedgwick had been urging his soldiers not to duck enemy fire.
“I’m ashamed of you, dodging that way,” he is reported to have said. “At this distance, they couldn’t hit an elephant.”
25. Jan 2010 at 0:00 | Tom Nicholson