Arthur Culvahouse

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Person.png Arthur Culvahouse   C-SPAN LinkedInRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Arthur Culvahouse.jpg
BornJuly 4, 1948
Ten Mile, Tennessee, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Tennessee, New York University
SpousePamela Culvahouse
Member ofBrookings Institution, PIAB
Iran-Contra Counsel to U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Brookings Institution. Ambassador to Australia from 2019 to 2021.

Employment.png US/Ambassador to Australia

In office
13 March 2019 - January 19, 2021

Employment.png White House Counsel Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
March 20, 1987 - January 20, 1989
Succeeded byC. Boyden Gray

Arthur Boggess Culvahouse Jr. is an American attorney who was the United States Ambassador to Australia from 2019 to 2021.

He is the former Chair of O'Melveny & Myers, an international law firm of more than 1,000 lawyers with offices around the world. Culvahouse also was counsel to Ronald Reagan in the last two years of his presidency, and was entrusted by John McCain and Donald Trump to vet their vice presidential candidates.

On November 6, 2018, Culvahouse was announced to be the new appointment as the United States' Ambassador to Australia,[1] a posting confirmed by the Senate on January 2, 2019. He presented his credentials to the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove, on March 13, 2019.[2]

Background and early years

Culvahouse was born in Ten Mile, Tennessee, the son of Ruth (Wear) and Arthur Boggess Culvahouse.[3] He graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tennessee and in 1973 as a Juris Doctor from the New York University School of Law.[4]

From 1973 to 1976, Culvahouse was Chief Legislative Assistant/Counsel to Senator Howard H. Baker Jr.[4] He practiced law with O'Melveny & Myers from 1976 to 1984, and again from 1989 until 2018.


Reagan Chief Counsel

From 1987 to 1989, Culvahouse was Counsel to U.S. President Ronald Reagan.[4] As White House Counsel, he advised the President on matters ranging from Iran-Contra investigations, to the Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Anthony Kennedy, to the legal aspects of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Culvahouse was Bork's "handler" during his rejected Senate confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court.[4]

In January 1989, Reagan awarded Culvahouse the Presidential Citizens’ Medal, an award established in 1969 to "recognize citizens who performed exemplary deeds of service for the country or their fellow citizens."

Post-White House

From 1990 to 1992, Culvahouse was a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Nuclear Failsafe and Risk Reduction, appointed by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, to evaluate and recommend improvements in the United States' nuclear command and control system.

In December 1992, Cheney awarded Culvahouse the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Culvahouse's prior service on boards and commissions includes service on the Supreme Court Fellows Commission (2002–2005), the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Naval Academy (1989–1991), and the Counterintelligence Advisory Panel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1989–1990).

Prior to his appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Australia Culvahouse was a member of the Brookings Institution Board of Trustees, and the Leadership Board of the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness.

McCain campaign

In May 2008, Culvahouse was chosen to head presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain's search for a Vice Presidential running mate, the first time that Culvahouse had ever been involved in a presidential campaign.[5][6] At the same time, he won a third four-year term to the chairmanship of his law firm.[4] Culvahouse was mentioned in the American Bar Association's journal as a possible Attorney General in a John McCain presidency, because "a lot of Democrats in Washington respect him and he has private access to a lot of ears on Capitol Hill."[4]

McCain's pick of Sarah Palin for vice president led to controversy over the vetting process.[7][8] In 2009, Culvahouse defended his vetting in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association: Palin "had a lot of capacity. The mistake I made — and we've laughed about it since — after giving [McCain] that advice, he said, 'Well, what's your bottom line?' I said, 'John. High risk, high reward.' And his response, ‘You shouldn't have told me that, I've been a risk-taker all of my life.'"[9]

“Me and two of my most cynical partners interviewed [Palin], and came away impressed,” Culvahouse said.[9]

Trump campaign

In May 2016, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, chose Culvahouse to head the search for his running mate.[10]

Ambassador to Australia

On 6 November 2018, Trump nominated Culvahouse as the next United States Ambassador to Australia,[1] to fill a post that had been vacant since John Berry left the post in September 2016. The appointment was confirmed by the Senate on 2 January 2019.[11] Culvahouse officially took office on March 13, 2019 when his credentials were accepted by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove.[2] He left office in January 2021.[12][13]

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  11. Incoming US Ambassador to Australia Arthur B. Culvahouse confirmed by Senate
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