Opinion

Obama rewards two more top bundlers with ambassador posts

US embassy in London
US Embassy, London
Photo Credit: The Guardian

Two more of President Obama’s biggest campaign fundraisers received his nomination Tuesday to serve as U.S. ambassadors in the cushiest spots on earth: Matthew Barzun in London and John R. Phillips in Rome.

Both men were top bundlers for Obama, raising $500,000 each for him in 2012 and almost that in 2008, CNS News reported.

According to CNS, Barzun and Phillips join many other top Obama campaign bundlers who are currently serving, or are awaiting confirmation to serve in “ambassadorial posts” in coveted spots:

Already serving are the ambassadors to Belize (bundled $100,000-$200,000 for the Obama campaign in 2008), Canada ($50,000-$100,000), Czech Republic ($200,000-$500,000), Finland ($500,000+), France ($500,000+), Japan ($500,000+) and Norway ($200,000-$500,000).

Joining them are the current U.S. ambassadors to the European Union in Brussels, and to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), based in Jakarta, both of whom bundled at least $500,000 each for the Obama campaign in 2008.

Awaiting confirmation are Obama’s nominees as ambassador to Berlin (John Emerson, $100,000-$200,000), Brussels (Denise Bauer, $200,000- $500,000), Madrid (James Costos, $500,000+), Santo Domingo (James “Wally” Brewster, $500,000+), Singapore (Kirk Wagar, $500,000+), Vienna (Alexa Wesner, $200,000-$500,000) and the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva (Keith Harper, $500,000+).

Finally, Obama has nominated as ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford – not a campaign bundler, but his 2012 campaign finance director.

The American Foreign Service Association frowns upon the practice of appointing major campaign fundraisers –non-career diplomats – to ambassadorial posts, but it’s been going on for years.

“Political appointees tend most often to get coveted Western European and Caribbean stations, where 72 percent of all ambassador posts since 1960 have gone to them,” the article said.

In fact, the Foreign Service Act of 1980, which outlines “employment terms and conditions for foreign service employees,” specifically asks that top diplomatic positions as “chief of mission” go to career members of the Foreign Service.

“Contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor in the appointment of an individual as a chief of mission,” the Act reads, CNS reported.

 More from CNS News.

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