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This Month @ Moritz

Thomas Montgomery '80: Congressional Liaison for U.S. Exports Worldwide

Tom at work
Tom at work at the Ex-Im Bank

After a variety of positions in both Ohio and Washington D.C., Thomas Montgomery '80 is back inside the beltway again, now serving as the senior vice president of congressional affairs for the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im).

"I've always been interested in international issues," Tom says. "This is an opportunity to do something almost exclusively international. This job allows me to focus on a few key issues."

Ex-Im Bank serves as the official export credit agency of the U.S., financing the sale of U.S. exports, primarily to emerging markets in the world, by providing loan guarantees, export credit insurance and direct loans. The bank is an independent federal government agency. According to information provided by the bank, Ex-Im authorized financing support to approximately $14.2 billion of U.S. exports worldwide. In existence for almost 70 years, the bank has supported more than $400 billion of U.S. exports.

"The biggest challenge is creating a level playing field," Tom says. "We want to increase exports on the U.S. side, but other countries want to do the same thing. Some may not always operate under the same ethical standards we do. We have to watch for that and head it off."

Tom arrived at Ex-Im in November 2003 via the U.S. House of Representative's Financial Services Committee, where he served as senior counsel. That position reunited him with Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Findlay) '69, who is the committee chair.

Tom and Oxley go back to 1981 – Oxley's first term in Congress. As a young, ambitious lawyer from Oxley's home district, Tom made a phone call. Soon after, he became legislative counsel, then legislative director for Oxley.

"The '81 session was the Reagan tax-cut. We hit the ground running," Tom says. After five years, Tom returned to Ohio and moved into the private sector, but Potomac Fever would strike again. Tom returned to D.C. as a counsel for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Between then and now, Tom has been a lobbyist, worked for the City of Cleveland and with the Ohio Lottery, before reuniting with Oxley at the Financial Services Committee.

In his new position, Tom says, one of the goals of the bank is to help create and maintain U.S. jobs. Trade and ensuring that U.S. exporters can compete in the world market are at the heart of everything with which the Bank deals.

Tom and a co-worker
Tom and a co-worker

With the lifting of steel tariffs, steel issues are a current focus. Environmental standards are a common issue as well, he says. Philip Merrill, Ex-Im Bank chairman, says Tom is "well-versed" in the bank's Congressional mandates and mission. "We are delighted to have someone of his caliber to coordinate our interactions with Congress," he says.

Tom says he has many fond memories of law school at OSU and credits Moritz Law for honing the critical thinking skills he's used throughout his career. "(OSU) gave me a lot of opportunities to think on my feet. At the time, I thought there were too many," Tom says with a laugh. "In my first class, the first two words out of Professor (Albert) Clovis' mouth were 'Mr. Montgomery.' It was trial by fire… Overall, I learned the ability to really analyze issues and see multiple sides."

Friends wishing to congratulate Tom on his recent promotion can reach him at Thomas.Montgomery@exim.gov.