Another of Obama’s fundraisers nominated for top ambassadorial posting – this one with London garden second in size only to Buckingham Palace – sparking fury among career diplomats
- Campaign finance chairman Matthew Barzun is new UK ambassador
- He contributed $2.3 million to the campaign and helped raise a total of £700m
- Made ambassador to Sweden after fundraising for Obama’s 2008 campaign
- Average sum raised by those being appointed to top embassies now $1.8m
- Nine of the top postings to Europe, the Caribbean and Asia given to donors
By Daniel Miller PUBLISHED: 11 July 2013
President Obama has appointed his chief fundraiser to the glamorous position of ambassador to Britain, continuing the long but controversial tradition of rewarding campaign donors with coveted embassy posts.
Campaign finance chairman Matthew Barzun is set to move into the sumptuous residence in London’s Court of St James which boasts a sprawling garden second only in size to that of Buckingham Palace.
Obama raised a record-breaking $1.1 billion to defeat Mitt Romney last year, of which his big money donors, or ‘bundlers’ as they are known in Washington, brought in an estimated $286 million.
Mr Barzun, a technology and internet magnate, is said to have personally contributed some $2.3 million to the campaign while helping to raise a total of $700 million.
While it is certainly not new to see campaign donors being handed embassy posts, the money involved has now reached record levels.
The average amount raised by those being appointed to top embassies around the world is now almost $1.8 million (£1.2 million).
Other recent appointments include San Fransisco banker Azita Raji, who donated a generous $3.2 million and is now rumoured to be packing his bags to enjoy the crisp alpine air of Switzerland.
HBO executive James Costos who raised a generous $1,124,925 is off to sunny Spain while Chicago marketing boss James ‘Wally’ Brewster will enjoy the glorious Caribbean weather of the Dominican Republic.
Washington Lawyer John Philips, a longstanding Democrat campaigner who raised at least $500,000, will enjoy a 16th century villa on Lake Como as ambassador to Italy.
It means that in the last few weeks, nine of the most coveted ambassadorial postings in Europe, the Caribbean and Asia have gone to donors.
Career diplomat Thomas Pickering, claims the process has led to donors assuming they will get to enjoy the high-life in the style of Pearl Mesta, the notorious former ambassador to Luxembourg known for throwing lavish parties.
Mr Pickering, who led the investigation into the attacks on the US embassy in Libya, told The Guardian: ‘All these people want to go to places where the lifestyle issues [are pleasant] and to some extent that produces the notion that life in these western European Embassies is like Pearl Mesta.
‘It has the effect of diminishing perhaps the sense that the US is treating these countries with the respect that they deserve.’
Last month Obama tapped Patrick Gaspard, a former White House aide and top Democratic Party official, to be the U.S. ambassador to South Africa.
Earlier in June he nominated Rufus Gifford, who raised upward of $700 million as the head of Obama’s 2012 finance operation, to be U.S ambassador to Denmark.
Meanwhile LA fund manager John Emerson, who stumped up $1.5 million has been chosen as they new ambassador to Germany.
The tradition of giving donors the plum jobs while careers diplomats are left with the less glamorous posts, appears to be sparking a rift between the two groups.
Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association which represents career diplomats, estimates that campaign donors receive around 30 per cent of the total ambassadorial posts.
However of what are regarded as the plum jobs across Western Europe and in wealthy Asian capitals the figure rises to somewhere between 70 per cent and 80 per cent.
She told The Guardian: ‘The giving of ambassadorships to people who have raised a lot of money for the campaign has increased and that’s a concern to us in particular.
]’There was some thought that with Obama being such a “change agent” that he might really do things differently.
‘But it has just been a bigger let down.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2360075/Another-Obamas-fundraisers-nominated-ambassadorial-posting–London-garden-second-size-Buckingham-Palace–sparking-fury-career-diplomats.html#ixzz2YjCmgOk9
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