The Hill: Sweet ambassadorships have gone out to at least 19 Obama donors this year

posted at 3:21 pm on July 16, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

It really isn’t all that unusual for presidents to hand out premium ambassadorships to some of their best buddies, and while there’s definite potential for seediness there, it isn’t necessarily always a horrible way of doing things. Host countries don’t generally tend to mind it if the president’s chosen ambassador has ability to easily reach the ear of the president of the United States directly, rather than having to go through all of the normal and top-heavy bureaucratic channels.

During President Obama’s tenure, however, the usual practice seems to be growing increasingly transactional as the implied price tag of these comfortable first-world ambassadorships has gotten higher and higher — and career diplomats and State Department types are getting more and more perturbed about it. The Hill took a look at the exact whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys of Obama’s ambassadorial appointments, and according to their analysis, the president has handed out at least nineteen coveted positions to campaign contributors and political allies in 2013 alone:

Nominations to plum postings have gone to no fewer than eight bundlers, six of whom raised more than $1 million for the president’s reelection campaign. The president has also given prized ambassadorships to key fundraising staffers, including the head of his 2012 finance operation. …

Internal financial documents obtained by The New York Times suggest the price per post is also at an all-time high, although apples-to-apples comparisons aren’t possible because precise figures aren’t available for previous administrations.

The amounts raised by the eight bundlers in 2011-2012 ranged from $2.36 million by Women for Obama Finance Chairwoman Denise Bauer to $477,000 from Los Angeles entertainment attorney and Michelle Obama Princeton classmate Crystal Nix Hines. The two women have been named to serve as ambassadors to Belgium and UNESCO, respectively, while other bundlers have been tapped for service in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Singapore and Austria.

Another bundler, Democratic National Committee National Finance Chairwoman Jane Stetson, is rumored to be in line for the top diplomatic post in Paris, perhaps the most prestigious ambassadorial position of them all. Stetson raised $2.43 million for Obama. …

Retired JPMorgan Vice President Azita Raji, Obama’s second biggest bundler, at $3.15 million, is a top choice for ambassador to Switzerland.

And Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy and a lifelong Democratic activist, is the heavy favorite for ambassador to Japan.

And etcetera. More than 32 percent of president Obama’s handpicked ambassadors for these European capital and more destination-y outposts have gone to political appointees rather than professional ones, according to the American Foreign Service Association, versus 30 percent under G.W. Bush and less than 28 percent under Clinton. Perhaps the rising prerequisite fundraising abilities are just the way it’s going to be, given the record amounts of campaign cash President Obama raised, but… just sayin.’

Matthew Barzun, a business executive, served as US ambassador to Sweden until 2011, when he took the position as Obama’s finance chairman. If confirmed for the London post, Barzun would replace Louis Susman, another Democratic fundraiser, who stepped down earlier this year.

Obama is also nominating John Phillips, who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the 2012 presidential campaign, to be the US envoy to Italy and the Republic of San Marino. …

Barzun and Phillips are the latest in a long string of Obama fundraisers and former campaign operatives to be given plum diplomatic postings in recent months – many of them in European capitals. Last month, Patrick Gaspard, a former White House aide and top Democratic party official, was nominated to be the US ambassador to South Africa and Rufus Gifford, who headed Obama’s 2012 finance operation, was named as US ambassador to Denmark. Obama also chose major fundraisers for postings in Spain and Germany.

I’d imagine Anna Wintour will be rather put out.


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Am I the only person who would bundle hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to become the ambassador to Moldova?

Red Cloud on July 16, 2013 at 3:25 PM

No story here. Ambassadorships have been handed out to significant political supporters for nearly the entire history of the Republic. Andrew Jackson defended the already established practice by saying, “to the winner belong the spoils.”

Ace ODale on July 16, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Thanks to Obama, overseas living is becoming more attractive and not just to his buddies, but to all Americans.

NoDonkey on July 16, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Man, what I wouldn’t give to be ambassador to San Marino. Talk about a paid vacation!

Ace ODale on July 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM

I’ll take Cost Rica…

right2bright on July 16, 2013 at 3:34 PM

What did people expect? Obama has no personal friends or important former collegaues to appoint to these posts. And he had little to offer wealthy donors in return for their huge findraising, other than a plum Ambassadorship.

The entire personnel part of this Administration has been pathetic. This is what happens when you elevate a guy from obscure state Senator to President of the United States in 4 years. The people who get the jobs are fatcats and party hacks.

rockmom on July 16, 2013 at 3:35 PM

No story here. Ambassadorships have been handed out to significant political supporters for nearly the entire history of the Republic. Andrew Jackson defended the already established practice by saying, “to the winner belong the spoils.”

Ace ODale on July 16, 2013 at 3:28 PM

…ummmmm, that was acknowledged in the article,but this time it seems to be excessive, as if that is surprising with this administration.

The word to learn is “discernment”…

right2bright on July 16, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Yuppers!
———

Top Bundlers are already Locked in for 2012 Employment!!

Lets ReVisit!!
————–

Remember,Bundlers form 2008,are already going to get employment in 2012!!
——–—-

27 Obama bundlers have already topped $500,000
Updated: 8:49 am, July 28, 2011
*******************************

More than 40 bundlers from 2008 who received government appointments after Obama’s election have returned as major fundraisers.

iWatch News reported in June how many bundlers from the 2008 campaign had jobs or commission spots from the administration.

In total, 43 bundlers from 2008 later received government appointments and have returned as bundlers for 2012.

Of those, five were listed as giving $500,000 or more so far in 2012. They are:
===============

John Emerson, of Beverly Hills, who was appointed to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, raised at least $100,000 in 2008.

Michael Kempner, Cresskill, N.J., was named to the Council for Community Solutions. He bundled $100,000 for the 2008 campaign.

Kirk Rudy, of Austin, Texas, was appointed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He raised at least $200,000 for 2008.

Andy Spahn, a $50,000 bundler in 2008 who was appointed to the President’s Commission on Arts and Humanities, has raised more than $500,000 so far for 2012.

Jane Stetson, of Norwich, Vt., a $200,000 bundler in 2008, also has reached the $500,000 milestone for 2012.

She is a chair of the Democratic National Committee and her husband was appointed to the board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
More……….)
=========

http://www.iwatchnews.org/2011/07/15/5241/27-obama-bundlers-have-already-topped-500000

canopfor on September 26, 2011 at 6:51 PM

canopfor on April 15, 2012 at 5:06 PM

canopfor on July 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Obama rewards big bundlers with jobs, commissions, stimulus money, government contracts, and more……

2:00 am, June 15, 2011
Updated: 5:09 pm, March 8, 2012
********************************

These “bundlers” raised at least $50,000 and sometimes more than $500,000 in campaign donations for Obama’s campaign. Many of those in the “Class of 2008” are now being asked to bundle contributions for Obama’s re-election, an effort that could cost $1 billion.

As a candidate, Obama spoke passionately about diminishing the clout of moneyed interests and making the White House more accessible to everyday Americans. In kicking off his presidential run on Feb. 10, 2007, he blasted “the cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests,” who he said had “turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.”

The iWatch News investigation found:
************************************

• Overall, 184 of 556, or about one-third, of Obama bundlers or their spouses joined the administration in some role. But the percentages are much higher for the big-dollar bundlers. Nearly 80 percent of those who collected more than $500,000 for Obama took “key administration posts,” as defined by the White House. More than half the ambassador nominees who were bundlers raised more than half a million.

• The big bundlers had broad access to the White House for meetings with top administration officials and glitzy social events. In all, campaign bundlers and their family members account for more than 3,000 White House meetings and visits. Half of them raised $200,000 or more.

• Some Obama bundlers have ties to companies that stand to gain financially from the president’s policy agenda, particularly in clean energy and telecommunications, and some already have done so. Level 3 Communications, for instance, snared $13.8 million in stimulus money. At least 18 other bundlers have ties to businesses poised to profit from government spending to promote clean energy, telecommunications and other key administration priorities.

Some bundlers trade on their campaign largesse for Obama to further career aspirations or business plans. Others, already successful, simply enjoy the exclusive stature bestowed by ties to the White House. Lena L. Kennedy, for instance, papers her Southern California consulting website with photographs of herself with Obama. She put out a press release announcing a June 13 fundraiser featuring Michelle Obama in Los Angeles; ticket prices ran from $1,000 to $10,000, the latter “allowing a photo opportunity and private time with the First Lady.” She declined to comment for this article.

“Some people just crave attention and some people just like getting the notoriety or attention of being a big player,” said Thomas M. McInerney, a San Francisco lawyer who bundled at least $100,000 for Obama. He said he didn’t ask for or get anything in return, though he knew others who did. “There was so much money this time, and there were so many people involved in raising the money, the number of people looking for something was exponentially more.”
Rewarding the donors

While the Obama administration tightened restrictions on hiring lobbyists, the deference it has shown major donors contradicts its claims to have changed business as usual in Washington, critics said.

Others said Obama strains credulity in claiming to bring reform to Washington while carrying on the patronage practices of past administrations. They added that many big donors aren’t shy about asking for specific favors, which gives candidates of both parties little choice but to keep patronage alive.(More…)
===================================================

http://www.publicintegrity.org/2011/06/15/4880/obama-rewards-big-bundlers-jobs-commissions-stimulus-money-government-contracts-and

canopfor on May 6, 2013 at 10:01 PM

canopfor on July 16, 2013 at 3:44 PM

So, 19 leftist radicals left the country. What’s the problem?

faraway on July 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Am I the only person who would bundle hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to become the ambassador to Moldova?

Red Cloud on July 16, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Ditto, except Slovenia for me.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on July 16, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Let’s hope the Austrian ambassador he chose can speak Austrian.

Drained Brain on July 16, 2013 at 3:47 PM

If you gots the loot,or,are a Campaign Bundler,hey,no
experience necessary,……………YOU GET A JOB!!
Cool eh!!
(sarc)

canopfor on July 16, 2013 at 3:47 PM

“Were going to punish our enemies and were gonna reward our friends”…

The ONE promise kept by Pres. Trayvon Obama, Sr.

hillsoftx on July 16, 2013 at 3:48 PM

So, 19 leftist radicals left the country. What’s the problem?

faraway on July 16, 2013 at 3:45 PM

faraway:Now that is funny:O

canopfor on July 16, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Obama ‘bundlers’ hauled in more than $33 million last quarter
President’s friends have raised at least $106 million so far
By Aaron Mehtaemail
7:47 pm, April 20, 2012 Updated: 9:44 pm, April 20, 2012
********************************************************

President Barack Obama’s campaign raised $33.6 million last quarter from “bundlers,” supporters of the president who collect checks from friends, family and associates and deliver them to the campaign, according to a list released by the campaign Friday night.

A total of 90 new bundlers appeared on the list, bringing the total to 532 and the total amount of contributions to $106 million.
(More…..)

http://www.publicintegrity.org/2012/04/20/8711/obama-bundlers-hauled-more-33-million-last-quarter
===================================

The Looters,er,names:

Obama for America and Obama Victory Fund
2012 Volunteer Fundraisers
**************************

Amount Raised: $50,000-$100,000

http://www.barackobama.com/2012-first-quarter-volunteer-fundraisers

canopfor on July 16, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Meanwhile, there’s an opening at the embassy in Libya.

Hmm… dunno which is worse. Being an Obama enemy or an Obama “friend.”

Turtle317 on July 16, 2013 at 3:55 PM

They also get kenyacare exemptions.

Nothing but the best for obama and his ruling elite.

acyl72 on July 16, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Given what happens to ambassadors on Obama’s watch, I’m not sure this is an ideal fee for services rendered.

The Schaef on July 16, 2013 at 4:34 PM

I think it’s disgusting, no matter which party does it.

We can thank good ol’ Andy Jackson. “To the victor belong the spoils!”

GarandFan on July 16, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Just wonderin’ how much Chris Stevens donated to Obutthead? Just wonderin’ ya’ know. Probably didn’t meet his bundling quota.

NOMOBO on July 16, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Am I the only person who would bundle hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to become the ambassador to Moldova?

Red Cloud on July 16, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Ditto, except Slovenia for me.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on July 16, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Moronica for me!

Del Dolemonte on July 16, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Whats the lower limit for getting the post in Burkina Faso?

Two goats and a nice bed roll?

BobMbx on July 16, 2013 at 4:51 PM

who didn’t know the prophet of hopey/change is always for sale, As reported any sit down meeting requires a minimum cash donation of $30 grand

tuttle from tacoma on July 16, 2013 at 5:35 PM

OMG! 32% for Obama versus 30% for GWB?

This is a non-story. Can we talk about Honey Boo Boo or something else more interesting. ;-)

TheLoudTalker on July 16, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Bush did the same thing…….so?

This is just small potatoes.

Next!

PappyD61 on July 16, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Turtle317 on July 16, 2013 at 3:55 PM

I was thinking just that–considering how Obama treats his ambassadors, I’m not sure I’d want that job.

DrMagnolias on July 16, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Meanwhile, there’s an opening at the embassy in Libya.

Hmm… dunno which is worse. Being an Obama enemy or an Obama “friend.”

Turtle317 on July 16, 2013 at 3:55 PM

He is going to offer that one to one of the Koch Brothers.

jeffn21 on July 17, 2013 at 10:58 AM