Louis Caldera: Wikis


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Louis Caldera

Photo as Secretary of the Army, December 1998

In office
January 20, 2009 – May 22, 2009
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Raymond A. Spicer
Succeeded by George D. Mulligan, Jr.

18th President of the University of New Mexico
In office
August 2003 – January 2006
Preceded by F. Chris Garcia
Succeeded by David W. Harris

In office
July 2, 1998 – January 20, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Robert M. Walker
Succeeded by Thomas E. White

In office
1992 – 1997
Preceded by Barbara Friedman
Succeeded by Gil Cedillo

Born April 1, 1956 (1956-04-01) (age 53)
El Paso, Texas
Political party Democratic Party[1]
Alma mater United States Military Academy (B.S.)
Harvard University (J.D./M.B.A.)
Profession Attorney
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1978-1983
Rank Captain[1]

Louis Caldera (born April 1, 1956) was Director of the White House Military Office[2] from January 20, 2009 until May 22, 2009 and served as the 17th United States Secretary of the Army from July 2, 1998 until January 20, 2001.


Family and education

Caldera, the son of Mexican immigrants, Soledad and Benjamin Caldera,[1] was born on April 1, 1956 in El Paso, Texas.[3] His family left Texas for California when he was 4 years old, living briefly in public housing in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles before moving to the suburb of Whittier. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1978 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, then served on active duty from 1978 to 1983, mostly at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He went on to enroll at Harvard University and in 1987 earned a joint J.D./M.B.A. degree from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School respectively.

While studying at Harvard, he met his wife, Eva Orlebeke Caldera; together they have three daughters, Allegra Christine Caldera, Sophia Marie Caldera, and Camille Grace Caldera.

Law career

After graduating from Harvard, Caldera practiced law from 1987 to 1990 at O’Melveny & Myers, and then from 1990 to 1991 at Buchalter, Nemer, Fields and Younger. From 1991 to 1992, he was a Deputy Counsel for Los Angeles County.

California State Assembly

Caldera then served as a California State Assemblyman from 1992 to 1997, representing the nearly 400,000 residents of California's 46th State Assembly district, which is located in and around downtown Los Angeles. As an Assemblyman, he served as chairman of the Banking and Finance Committee, the Revenue and Taxation Committee, and the Budget Committee.

Secretary of the Army

Before finishing his third term in the Assembly, Caldera resigned to begin serving as managing director and chief operating officer for President Bill Clinton's Corporation for National and Community Service (1997-1998), a domestic volunteer program.

On May 22, 1998, Clinton announced Caldera as his selection for Secretary of the Army.[4] On July 2, 1998, Caldera was sworn in as the 17th Secretary of the Army by Secretary of Defense William Cohen.[5]

Other positions

He went on to serve as Vice Chancellor for University Advancement in the California State University System, the largest four-year university system in the country. Caldera became the 18th president of the University of New Mexico in August 2003 and stepped down from that post in January 2006. Caldera's contract with the University granted him appointment as a tenured member of the University of New Mexico School of Law faculty.[6][7]

Caldera served on the board of directors of IndyMac Bank from 2002 until its failure and subsequent seizure by the government in July 2008.[8]

Caldera served on the board of directors for Southwest Airlines until he submitted his resignation, effective January 15, 2009, in connection with his selection to serve as Director of the White House Military Office.[9]

Aircraft photo mission controversy

During his tenure as Director of the White House Military Office, Caldera approved a mission, conducted on April 27, 2009, where a Boeing VC-25 (a Boeing 747 military variant that is denominated Air Force One when the President of the United States is aboard), followed by an F-16 military fighter jet, performed low-altitude flyovers of New York City and New Jersey.[10 ] The mission "was set up to create an iconic shot of Air Force One, similar to one that was taken in recent years over the Grand Canyon."[10 ]

While the FAA and select local authorities were given some degree of notification in advance, many other officials and the general public were not. The flyover of the lower Manhattan financial district created a panic. Many feared it was another terrorist attack like the one that destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, or an aborted attack attempt, because of the F-16 chasing the presidential plane. This led scores of people to leave their desks and large office buildings to be evacuated in a speedy but impromptu fashion.

New York City police stated that "federal authorities" told them not to disclose information about the flyover to the public in advance. President Obama was also not informed beforehand. Like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Obama only learned of the incident after the disturbance it caused was already being reported by journalists, bloggers, websites and news outlets.

The incident brought intense scrutiny and numerous highly critical comments directed at Caldera.[11] White House officials said President Obama was fuming mad and did not see the need for a new Air Force One publicity photo anyway.[12 ] Mayor Bloomberg condemned the low flyover and the failure to provide public notice, saying he himself had not been adequately notified, that he was "furious", and that it showed "poor judgment".[13] Senator John McCain stated the flyover photo op was "a fundamentally unsound exercise in military judgment and may have constituted an inappropriate use of Department of Defense resources." The cost of setting up the flyover photo was reportedly $328,835. Observers noted that an expense like this would have been incurred whether or not the photo shoot had been authorized. VC-25 flying time requirements dictate the need for regular training flights. Had the flyover not been ordered, a similar expense would have been incurred in the normal course of VC-25 flight training.

Caldera, after meeting with White House officials, issued a public apology for the incident, stating, "Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."[12 ]

Following an investigation into how the decision to conduct the flight had been reached, directed by Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina, Caldera announced his resignation on May 8, 2009, effective May 22, 2009. [14][15]


  1. ^ a b c "Louis Caldera: 1956—: Educational Administrator Biography - Rose From Cadet To Army Secretary, Emphasized And Improved Education Opportunities In Army, Worked Toward Diversity In Army And Universities". Hispanic Biographies Vol 3. p. 3542. http://biography.jrank.org/pages/3542/Caldera-Louis-1956-Educational-Administrator.html. Retrieved December 17, 2008.  
  2. ^ Office of the President-Elect (December 2, 2008). "President-elect Barack Obama names Louis Caldera Director of White House Military Office". Press release. http://change.gov/newsroom/entry/president_elect_barack_obama_names_louis_caldera_director_of_white_house_mi/.  
  3. ^ "Louis Caldera: 1956—: Educational Administrator - Rose From Cadet To Army Secretary". Hispanic Biographies Vol 3. p. 3539. http://biography.jrank.org/pages/3539/Caldera-Louis-1956-Educational-Administrator-Rose-From-Cadet-Army-Secretary.html. Retrieved December 17, 2008.  
  4. ^ "Caldera Nominated New Army Secretary". DefenseLink (U.S. Department of Defense). June 1, 1998. http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=41411. Retrieved December 17, 2008.  
  5. ^ U.S. Department of Defense (July 1, 1998). "Secretary of the Army Oath of Office Ceremony". Press release.  
  6. ^ Fonseca, Felicia (January 25, 2006). "Caldera to resign August 1 as UNM president". Daily Lobo. Associated Press. http://media.www.dailylobo.com/media/storage/paper344/news/2006/01/25/News/Caldera.To.Resign.Aug.1.As.Unm.President-1504786.shtml.  
  7. ^ "Professor Louis E. Caldera". University of New Mexico School of Law. http://lawschool.unm.edu/faculty/caldera/index.php\.  
  8. ^ "IndyMac Announces the Retirement of Frederick J. Napolitano; Louis Caldera Joins IndyMac and IndyMac Bank Boards; Lydia Kennard Joins IndyMac Bank Board". Business Wire. May 13, 2002. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_/ai_85871423?tag=untagged.  
  9. ^ Ricks, Ron; Southwest Airlines Co. (2009-04-17). "Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders Wednesday, May 20, 2009" (PDF). http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?item=UGFyZW50SUQ9MjE2NnxDaGlsZElEPS0xfFR5cGU9Mw==&t=1. Retrieved 2009-05-09.  
  10. ^ a b "White House Apologizes for Air Force Flyover" The New York Times, April 27, 2009
  11. ^ "'Furious' Obama orders review of NY plane flyover" CNN, April 28, 2009
  12. ^ a b "White House Will Probe Presidential Plane PR Stunt". Associated Press/Google. 2009-04-29. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jQCKDUYswf9K9lMjX4oxtDxHVqXQD97S2DO00. Retrieved 2009-04-29.  
  13. ^ "White House Apologizes for Air Force Flyover". The New York Times. 2009-04-27. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/air-force-one-backup-rattles-new-york-nerve. Retrieved 2009-04-27.  
  14. ^ "White House aide Louis Caldera loses job over Manhattan flyover fiasco involving Air Force One". Daily News Washington Bureau. 2009-05-08. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2009/05/08/2009-05-08_white_house_aide_loses_job_over_manhattan_flyover_fiasco.html. Retrieved 2009-05-08.  
  15. ^ "Caldera's Resignation Letter". http://www.abcnews.go.com/images/Blotter/CalderaLetter.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-09.  

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Barbara Friedman
California State Assemblyman, 46th District
Succeeded by
Gil Cedillo
Military offices
Preceded by
Robert M. Walker
United States Secretary of the Army
July 2, 1998 – January 20, 2001
Succeeded by
Gregory R. Dahlberg
Academic offices
Preceded by
F. Chris Garcia
President of the University of New Mexico
August, 2003 – January, 2006
Succeeded by
David W. Harris
Government offices
Preceded by
Raymond A. Spicer
Director of the White House Military Office
January 20, 2009 – May 22, 2009
Succeeded by
George D. Mulligan, Jr.


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