Sam Patten, former communications strategist and author of Dangerous Company: The Misadventures of a “Foreign Agent,” will talk politics, history, and white collar crime with Richard Kessler, former staff director of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (and former PFL board president!). Books will be available for sale and signing at the event.
Sam Patten is a communications strategist, author of the forthcoming memoir Dangerous Company: The Misadventures of a ‘Foreign Agent,’ long-time political operative in the U.S. and globally, and a felon re-entering society after being convicted in a high-profile investigation of Russian meddling in U.S. elections.
The ninth American to be convicted of failing to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act of 1938, Patten cooperated with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s 2018-19 probe and pleaded guilty to the lobbying charge, for which he was sentenced to three years probation. Prior to this, Sam worked as an advisor to political leaders in other countries, including Iraq, Ukraine, Georgia, the DR Congo and many others. It was his work for a Ukrainian political party that landed him in the crosshairs of U.S. investigators.
During the second administration of George W. Bush, Sam served as a senior advisor to the undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs. He’d also worked extensively in the field for the International Republican Institute (IRI) as the democracy group’s country director in Russia (2001-4) and political director in Iraq (2004-5). He also ran Freedom House’s Eurasian programs from 2009-11, with a focus on Central Asia. In 2000, Sam coordinated Bush’s campaign in Maine, where he had been working for U.S. Senator Susan Collins and U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe.
Growing up on the coast of Maine, Sam has — like sea captains who lived there a centuries ago — long been fascinated with the lands beyond America’s shores. In college, he studied the Soviet Union just as it was falling apart, and in the early 1990s, he found a way to Kazakhstan, where he worked as a teacher and advisor to energy companies. Both Sam’s parents are the children of foreign service officers, and both are direct descendants of John Jay, America’s first minister of foreign affairs and chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Upon completing his sentence in the Washington, DC area, Sam returned to Maine, where he lives with his dog, Pepper. He volunteers to teach in state prisons, and is a justice ambassador for Prison Fellowship. Much of Dangerous Company was written in the Patten Free Library Reading Room.
Richard Kessler served in a variety of senior professional positions in Congress for 25 years, retiring in 2014 as staff director of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He also served as staff director for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Richard was also a subcommittee staff director on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee responsible for the Federal workforce and a professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the House International Relations Committee where he was responsible for East Asia, the Pacific, South Asia, and UN peacekeeping policy issues. Before joining the Senate staff, he was a Senior Associate at The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and co-directed an energy study at the Center for International and Strategic Studies.
Richard earned a MA, MALD and a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School, Tufts University. He has a BA in French from Colgate University. He served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam in military intelligence and was awarded a Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
He moved to Bath in 2014 and has been President of the PFL (where he is currently a trustee), is chair of the Sagadahoc County Democratic Party, is a member of Grace Episcopal Church, and serves on the board of the international non-profit Internews, which promotes journalism.