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Ford is on a high-level hiring spree, and it's no accident

Jordyn Grzelewski, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

"Global policy is hugely important to transforming Ford and unlocking great value for customers and all stakeholders," Farley said at the time. "Jon's background, insights and achievements are unrivaled — as an ambassador and trade representative, a state governor and a public-company executive."

Huntsman, a former executive at his family's multinational chemicals company, Huntsman Corp., served as governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Donald Trump, ambassador to China under Obama, and ambassador to Singapore under Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. He also had trade assignments under President George W. Bush.

And though he ran for president as a Republican, Huntsman is not a partisan firebrand. He served in administrations under both parties and has relationships on both sides of the political aisle — precisely the kind of bipartisan pedigree Ford wants to help it navigate D.C. politics today.

In an era of extreme political polarization, experts say businesses must consider partisan affiliations when building policy and lobbying teams. In Ford's case, Croley brings Democratic bonafides, balancing out the GOP ties of Huntsman and Mitch Bainwol, Ford's chief government relations officer.

"You better be able to play with both sides, with somebody that has significant interface with each side," Cole said. "That's just the reality of today, with this political polarization. And it's not going to go away soon."

Croley, meanwhile, brings a different type of policy expertise, namely energy issues — a critical competence as the industry pivots toward electrification. In announcing the hire, Farley touted Croley's "deep leadership experience at the intersection of law and policy."

 

Croley reports to Farley and is slated to work closely with Huntsman. Bainwol and Bob Holycross, vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering, both report to him.

Croley most recently served as a partner in the D.C. office of Latham & Watkins, where he focused on legal policy and regulatory compliance around energy and environmental issues. He previously served as general counsel for the U.S. Department of Energy, and prior to that worked in the White House as a special assistant to Obama for regulatory policy and later as deputy counsel overseeing legal policy.

Croley, who is married to Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, was a special assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan's Civil Division and later worked at the University of Michigan Law School.

In bringing him on board as general counsel and chief policy officer, Farley "brought in — not somebody who has been general counsel of a public company, not somebody who's a dealmaker — but somebody who is an energy policy wonk," said Gordon.

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