Presidents nominating friends and campaign contributors to glamorous, plum ambassadorships is a tale as old as time, and it isn’t necessarily the worst system in the world for picking some of your top envoys. President Obama, however, has made especial, impersonal, and unfettered enough use of the practice to attract a heap of negative attention, and he just nominated another major Democratic bundler to one of the juiciest ambassadorships of all. Via the NYT:
President Obama on Friday nominated Jane D. Hartley, the chief executive officer of an economic consulting firm, to be ambassador to France, once more propelling a campaign fund-raiser into a prominent diplomatic position.
Ms. Hartley got her start working for the Democratic National Committee and later served in the White House office of public liaison under President Jimmy Carter. She has worked as an executive at several media companies. Since 2007, she has served as the chief executive officer of the Observatory Group, an economic and political consulting advisory firm with offices in Tokyo, Spain, Washington and New York.
The Center for Responsive Politics listed her as a “bundler” who raised more than $519,000 for Mr. Obama’s re-election effort. Her husband, Ralph L. Schlosstein, is a longtime donor to the Democratic Party.
Let us hope that the White House bothered to do some due diligence this time and that this gal is actually up to the task — France did just sell a warship to Russia despite our protestations, you know — and doesn’t faceplant like the major donor Obama nominated for the ambassadorship to Norway (remember this embarrassing little episode last January?). Speaking of, last week the two Democratic senators from Minnesota (a state with a lot of Norwegian-American heritage) iterated their disapproval of that pick, but the State Department still isn’t budging. Via WaPo:
Two key Senate Democrats have informed the Obama administration that they will oppose the nomination of Chartwell Hotels founder George Tsunis – who bundled or contributed more than $1.3 million for President Obama in 2012 – to be ambassador to Norway.
We’re told Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told the White House back in February that she intended to oppose the nomination. In a statement Wednesday, she citing his performance at a confirmation hearing and concerns from constituents. This week, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry noted his constituent’s concerns — Minnesota has the country’s largest Norwegian American population — that Tsunis would not be able “to serve effectively.” …
But the State Department is not backing away. “We still support and will continue to work with the Senate, a senior official there told The Loop, to resolve any outstanding questions and get George confirmed as soon as possible.”