Key Obama campaign backers who were appointed ambassadors

Winners’ Row: A sample of bundlers for Obama who are now ambassadors posted abroad

 

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Matching key campaign backers with first-class embassies is nothing new, and the practice has continued under the Obama administration. After overseeing the process of matching donors with embassies, David Jacobson—a Chicago lawyer (Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal) and Obama fundraiser (deputy to the national finance chair, Penny Pritzker)—matched himself with his own prize: U.S. ambassador to Canada. Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit that tracks money in U.S. politics, calls the American political tradition of giving diplomatic posts to big contributors “a donor rewards program.” Here’s a sample of bundlers for Obama who are now ambassadors posted abroad.

 

Charles Rivkin

CHARLES RIVKIN
Los Angelino by way of Chicago, producer of children’s television (Muppets, Yo Gabba Gabba!), more than $800,000:
France

 

Fay Hartog Levin

FAY HARTOG LEVIN
Chicago attorney, consultant, and wife of The Habitat Company chairman and East Bank Club developer Daniel Levin, $73,850 to Obama and other Democrats in 2008:
The Netherlands

 

Philip Murphy

PHILIP D. MURPHY
Former Goldman Sachs executive, former DNC national finance chair, and contributor of nearly $1.5 million to Democrats at the national level:
Germany

 

Howard Gutman

HOWARD W. GUTMAN
Partner in the influential D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly, $500,000:
Belgium

 

Barry White

BARRY WHITE
A Boston lawyer, more than $200,000:
Norway

 

Alan Solomont

ALAN SOLOMONT
A Boston businessman, $800,000:
Spain

 

Donald Beyer Jr

DONALD S. BEYER JR.
A Virginia Volvo dealer and the state’s former lieutenant governor, $500,000:
Switzerland

 

John V. Roos

JOHN V. ROOS
A Silicon Valley tech lawyer, $500,000:
Japan

 

Laurie Fulton

LAURIE S. FULTON
A Williams & Connolly Washington, D.C., partner, between $100,000 and $200,000:
Denmark

 

Bruce Oreck

BRUCE J. ORECK
The Boulder, Colorado, lawyer and Oreck vacuum cleaner heir, $500,000:
Finland

 

Photography: U.S. Department of State

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comments
4 years ago
Posted by Phil Krone

What happened to Lou Sussman? I thought he got the United Kingdom.
Contributors yes, incompetents no. Charles Rivkin is fluent in French. His father was Ambassador to two countries under John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

What I hope is that President Obama will take some of the better appointments and give them to senior foreign service officers every two or three postings. There are many career people who have excellent qualifications for such assignments, such as our Ambassador to Yemen, Steve Seche, who is completely fluent in Arabic and Spanish. He would make a terrific Ambassador to Spain, Morocco, Mexico or Argentina. I understand that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is lobbying hard for such policies.

My dear friend, the late Lou Lerner, was publisher of the Lerner newspapers and Jimmy Carter's choice to be Ambassador to Norway, where he did an excellent job.

Clark Randt, one of George W. Bush's fraternity brothers at Yale was an attorney in Hong Kong for many years, spoke fluent Mandarin and was our Ambassador to the Peoples' Republic of China during Bush's entire two terms where he did an excellent job. I can't speak of all of Bush's appointments but that was a very good one, and Obama choosing Governor Huntsman as Randt's successor, also fluent in Chinese and a Republican was also a brilliant move.

Frankly, foreign countries, particularly our western allies, desire to have ambassadors who have personal relationships with the president. President John F Kennedy practically named the British Ambassador to the U.S., David Ormsby Gore who in addition to being Ambassador was a frequent White House visitor on a personal basis.

Carol Felsenthal is an excellent writer and I'm sure all of her of her findings are correct; but I want to know, are any of these appointments duds?

3 years ago
Posted by Gary Zaetz

Dear Madame Ambassador Fay Hartog Levin, Please help US citizen Mrs. Adrian Caldwell with her problem, which she describes in her note below: "I am totally devastated. For 11 years my husband and I, our wonderful Dutch friends have searched for my father's B-17 that crashed off the coast of Holland 4 February 1944. All 10 men of the crew were lost. 4 were recovered, but my dad and 5 others still rest with the plane. The bomber was located 2 years ago in the Europort near Rotterdam. In February I was told by our Government that the search was funded for the 6 men's remains in August. Monday I got a call that the search was "cut" due to budget restraints. How can this happen? How can I tell my 88 year old mother this news?" Mme Ambassador, as a friend of Mrs. Caldwell, I call on you to do whatever is necessary to put the recovery of Mrs. Caldwell's father and his crewmates back on the Defense Department's schedule of recoveries.

Gary Zaetz
Cary, North Carolina

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