Irish-American businessman Edward Crawford (80) to be next US ambassador

Trump fundraiser set to be America’s representative in Ireland

Ohio businessman Ed Crawford, who has emerged as the front-runner to become the next US ambassador to Ireland, at the opening of an Irish Cultural Garden in Cleveland. Image: YouTube.

Ohio businessman Ed Crawford, who has emerged as the front-runner to become the next US ambassador to Ireland, at the opening of an Irish Cultural Garden in Cleveland. Image: YouTube.

 

Ohio businessman Edward Crawford is expected to be nominated by the Trump administration as the next US ambassador to Ireland.

The Cabinet in Dublin signed off on his nomination on Tuesday.

The 80-year-old Republican from Cleveland, Ohio has been linked with the vacant envoy role since last year shortly after President Donald Trump’s initial choice, Florida businessman Brian Burns, withdrew from consideration due to ill-health.

The US embassy in Dublin has been without an ambassador since Missouri lawyer Kevin O’Malley, Barack Obama’s envoy to Ireland, stepped down with the inauguration of Mr Trump last year.

The duties of ambassador have been filled by the US chargé d’affaires Reece Smyth since then.

Dozens of US diplomatic posts around the globe remain unfilled more than 18 months after the inauguration of Mr Trump as president as tensions between Democrats and Republicans have stalled the appointment of key figures by the Trump White House.

Mr Crawford must be approved through the US Congress with a vote by the Senate foreign relations committee and then the Senate itself before he can be formally sworn in as ambassador by the Trump administration.

An Irish-American with links to Co Cork, Mr Crawford has been an active presence in the Irish community in Cleveland. In 2012, he hosted the then taoiseach Enda Kenny at an event to mark the rededication of the Irish Cultural Garden in the city in 2012.

Though born on the east coast of the United States, he moved with his family to Cleveland as a boy and is a well-known business figure in the midwest area.

He is also a central figure in Republican politics and an early supporter of Mr Trump. He was the finance chairman for the Republican National Committee’s Ohio campaign during the 2016 presidential campaign helping the reality TV star-turned-politician win the key battleground state in the race for the White House.

Filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission show that Mr Crawford stepped down as chief executive of Park Ohio Holdings earlier this year, and was replaced by his son Matthew who had been chief operating officer - a move that indicates that Mr Crawford was preparing for a possible nomination as ambassador.

Ambassadorial nominees are subject to stringent financial disclosure and conflict of interest rules. Once nominated by the President, nominees face rigorous confirmation hearings in the Senate.

Mr Crawford senior remains president of the Nasdaq-listed company and a member of the board of Park Ohio Holdings, which operates more than 125 manufacturing sites and supply-chain facilities across the world.

Latest results for the company show that it reported net sales of $838 million in the first six months of this year, an increase of 21 per cent from the same period in 2017.

The company employs more than 6,000 people.

In 2013 it acquired Cork-based supply chain business QEF Global limited.

Mr Crawford’s Irish business interests are said to be a reason why his vetting by US government officials, a painstaking process for most nominees seeking appointment to diplomatic roles, took so long.

Company records list him as a director of eight active Irish companies including Ballybeg Finance Company of Dublin, Iega Industrial Equipment Group and Parkohio European Holding Company.