Mari Stull, a former food and beverage lobbyist-turned-wine blogger under the name “Vino Vixen,” has reviewed the social media pages of State Department staffers for signs of ideological deviation. She has researched the names of government officials to determine whether they signed off on Obama-era policies — though signing off does not mean officials personally endorsed them but merely cleared them through the bureaucratic chain. And she has inquired about Americans employed by international agencies, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations, asking their colleagues when they were hired and by whom, according the officials.
“She is actively making lists and gathering intel,” said one of the sources, a senior diplomat. Stull was named in April as a senior advisor to the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which manages U.S. diplomatic relations with the United Nations and other international institutions.
Her probing, along with a highly secretive management style, has become so uncomfortable that at least three senior officials are poised to leave the bureau, according to the sources. Officials there have warned some Americans employed by the U.N. to sidestep traditional meet-and-greet sessions with the department’s upper management to avoid drawing attention to themselves.
“She is gunning for American citizens in the U.N. to see if they are toeing the line,” the diplomatic source added.
Stull seems to have the support of her boss, Kevin Moley, who was appointed by the White House in January to head the bureau with the title of assistant secretary of state for international organizational affairs.
Stull cheered his appointment on Twitter at the time, proclaiming the “Global swamp will be drained.”
But over time, she has emerged as the most dominant force in the department. One diplomat said she seemed to outrank Moley in influence.
It remains unclear whether Stull’s activities have the backing of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and key policymakers in the White House, or whether she has taken the initiative on her own. But her brief tenure has alarmed colleagues at the State Department.
Three deputy assistant secretaries of state in the bureau, Molly Phee, the bureau’s principal deputy, Erin Barclay, and Nerissa Cook, are said to be on the way out — though some may simply move to other bureaus at State.