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Diplomatic Dollars

- July 29, 2013

Flying In The Face Of His 2008 Calls For Change, Obama's Second-Term Appointments Have Been Business As Usual In Washington

During The 2008 Campaign, Obama Said "We Need To Limit The Influence Of Big Donors." OBAMA: "I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that we need to limit the influence of big donors on campaigns, and I've co-sponsored legislation to fix the system - legislation Sen. McCain does not support. I am firmly committed to reforming the system as president, so that it's viable in today's campaign climate." (Sen. Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "The System Is Broken," USA Today, 6/20/08)

OBAMA IS REWARDING BIG DONORS AND OUTPACING HIS PREDECESSORS IN POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS FOR AMBASSADORS

THEN : Before He Was Sworn Into His First Term, Obama Downplayed The Number Of Political Appointments He Would Make To Ambassadorships: "There Will Probably Be Some." OBAMA: "You know, are there going to be political appointees to ambassadorships? There probably will be some. I don't -- you know, I think it would be -- it would be disingenuous for me to suggest that there are not going to be some excellent public servants, but who haven't come through -- through the ranks of the -- the civil service." (President-Elect Barack Obama, Press Conference, 1/9/09)

NOW: In His Second Term, Obama Has Appointed Almost Twice The Number Of Campaign Fundraisers And Political Allies As Ambassadors Than Recent Administrations. "Since the beginning of his second term, President Obama has appointed campaign fundraisers, party allies and other political figures as ambassadors at a level that is now almost double what has prevailed in the last few administrations." (Paul Richter, "Caroline Kennedy Nomination As Envoy To Japan Points To Larger Trend," Los Angeles Times, 7/25/13)

  • "More Than 56% Of Obama's 41 Second-Term Ambassadorial Nominations Have Been Political, Compared With An Average Of About 30% For Recent Administrations, According To U.S. Government Figures Compiled By The American Foreign Service Assn." (Paul Richter, "Caroline Kennedy Nomination As Envoy To Japan Points To Larger Trend,"Los Angeles Times, 7/25/13)
     
  • "Of The Political Nominees, At Least Half Have Had Fundraising Roles." (Paul Richter, "Caroline Kennedy Nomination As Envoy To Japan Points To Larger Trend,"Los Angeles Times, 7/25/13)

"At Least 26 Of Obama's Current And Nominated Ambassadors Were Major Democratic Party Contributors, Giving A Total Of At Least $13.6 Million To Him." "At least 26 of Obama's current and nominated ambassadors were major Democratic campaign contributors, giving a total of at least $13.6 million to him, the Democratic Party, and congressional candidates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg." (Lisa Lerer, "Obama Ambassadors Gave At Least $13.6 Million In Campaign Money," Bloomberg, 7/25/13)

"Donors-Turned-Ambassadors Gave An Average Of At Least $523,000 To Democratic Candidates From 2008-2014." "Donors-turned-ambassadors gave an average of at least $523,000 to Democratic candidates from 2008-2014, according to data gathered from Federal Election Commission records and Obama campaign disclosures." (Lisa Lerer, "Obama Ambassadors Gave At Least $13.6 Million In Campaign Money," Bloomberg, 7/25/13)

  • "The Total Amount Of Contributions May Be Significantly Higher. Internal Financial Documents Obtained Last September By The New York Times Show That The Ambassadors' Total Contributions Would Be At Least $21.6 Million." (Lisa Lerer, "Obama Ambassadors Gave At Least $13.6 Million In Campaign Money," Bloomberg, 7/25/13)

WHILE OBAMA'S POLITICAL ALLIES HAVE PROSPERED, QUALIFIED CIVIL SERVANTS HAVE BEEN LEFT BEHIND

THEN: In 2009, Obama Wanted Civil Servants To Have Ambassadorships "Wherever Possible" - And For "High-Quality Civil Servants" To Be "Rewarded." OBAMA: "And so, you know, but we're going to have to take a look at a whole host of those critical ambassadorial positions. My general inclination is to have civil service wherever possible serve in these posts. And we have outstanding public servants. And I've spoken with Secretary of State-designee Hillary Clinton about the importance of -- of rejuvenating the State Department. I want to recruit young people into the State Department to feel that this is a career track that they can be on for the long term. And so, you know, my expectation is, is that high-quality civil servants are going to be rewarded." (President-Elect Barack Obama, Press Conference, 1/9/09)

NOW: In 2012, The Foreign Service Association Called On Obama To "End The Spoils System De Facto 'Three-Year Rental' Of Ambassadorships." "'Now is the time to end the spoils system and the de facto 'three-year rental' of ambassadorships' the group wrote in a 2012 statement from its governing board. 'The appointment of non-career individuals, however accomplished in their own field, to lead America's important diplomatic missions abroad should be exceptional and circumscribed, not the routine practice it has become over the last three decades." (Paul Richter, "Caroline Kennedy Nomination As Envoy To Japan Points To Larger Trend," Los Angeles Times, 7 /25/13)

29-Year Foreign Service And Former Ambassador To Egypt Dan Kurtzer: "When He [Obama] Talked About Toughening Up Lobbying Rules, The Sense Was That This Is A President Really Committed To International Engagement." "'When he talked about toughening up lobbying rules, the sense was that this is a president really committed to international engagement,' said Dan Kurtzer, a 29-year veteran of the foreign service and former ambassador to Egypt and Israel under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush." (Lisa Lerer, "Obama Ambassadors Gave At Least $13.6 Million In Campaign Money," Bloomberg, 7/25/13)

  • Kurtzer: "Instead, We So Devalue Diplomacy That We Assume Anyone Can Walk Off The Street And Do It." (Lisa Lerer, "Obama Ambassadors Gave At Least $13.6 Million In Campaign Money," Bloomberg, 7/25/13)

Instead Of Rewarding Dedicated Civil Servants, Obama Has Given The Plush Ambassadorships To His Political Allies

"Political Ambassadors Are More Likely To Be Appointed To Those Countries That Are Wealthy, Popular Tourist Destinations And Safe." "But regardless of the model, Dr. Fedderke and Dr. Jett found, political ambassadors are more likely to be appointed to those countries that are wealthy, popular tourist destinations and safe. And what price is the Court of St. James's - diplomatic-speak for Britain, the nation's most prestigious post? 'The price for the Court of St. James's,' the authors find, 'appears to lie between $650,000 and $2.3 million.'"(Nicholas Confessore, "Study Puts 'Cost' To Landing Embassy Plot," The New York Times, 1/31/13)

University Of Pennsylvania Professors Johannes W. Fedderke And Dennis C. Jett "Computed Theoretic Prices" For An Appointment In The Obama Administration. "Officially, of course, there are no such requirements for would-be ambassadors. But in a recent study, two researchers - Johannes W. Fedderke and Dennis C. Jett, both professors of international relations at Pennsylvania State University - computed theoretical prices for different postings. Titled 'What Price the Court of St. James's? Political Influences on Ambassadorial Postings of the United States of America,' the paper looks at diplomatic appointments in the Obama administration through January 2011." (Nicholas Confessore, "Study Puts 'Cost' To Landing Embassy Plot," The New York Times, 1/31/13)

  • When "Political Connections" Were "Measured In A Dollars, Rather Than Administration Service," Contributors Have An Increased Chance Of Getting Desirable Posts In Western Europe. "But those whose political connections to Mr. Obama were measured in dollars, rather than administration service, had an increased chance of representing the United States in Western Europe, and a markedly smaller chance of serving in, say, Central Asia or sub-Saharan Africa." (Nicholas Confessore, "Study Puts 'Cost' To Landing Embassy Plot," The New York Times, 1/31/13)
  • "The Study Found That Political Ambassadors Who Had Made Campaign Donations Of $550,000, Or Bundled Contributions Of $750,000, Had A 90 Percent Chance Of Being Posted To A Country In Western Europe." (Nicholas Confessore, "Study Puts 'Cost' To Landing Embassy Plot," The New York Times, 1/31/13)

OBAMA'S CRONY APPOINTMENTS CONTINUE A TREND STARTED IN HIS FIRST TERM

During His First Term, "More Than A Dozen Current Or Former Ambassadors Were Listed By The 2008 Campaign As Being In The Top Tier Of Bundlers." "More than a dozen current or former ambassadors were listed by the 2008 campaign as being in the top tier of bundlers - fund-raisers who collected a minimum of $500,000 in checks from other donors and bundled them together. The campaign does not disclose specific figures above $500,000; the total for several of these people most likely ran into the multimillions." (Mark Landler, "Obama Rewarded '08 Fund-Raisers, Barring Some From Helping Now," The New York Times , 7/24/12)

  • During His First Term, Obama Nominated More Political Appointees For Ambassadorships Than Any Other President In The Last Twenty Years. "And according to the American Foreign Service Association, President Obama has nominated more 'political' appointees for ambassadorships versus foreign service candidates than any president in at least the past 20 years" (Jake Tapper and Kirit Radia, "Report: Nearly 80% of Obama's Top Bundlers Given 'Key Administration Posts,'" ABC News' " Political Punch ," 6/15/11)
     
  • During His First Term, Obama "Appointed At Least 59 Ambassadors Who Were Not Career Foreign Service Officers And Of Those, At Least For 40 Percent Were Bundlers." "Obama has appointed 59 ambassadors who were not career Foreign Service officers, and of those, 40 percent were bundlers." (T.W. Farnum, "The Influence Industry: Obama Gives Administration Jobs To Some Big Fundraisers," The Washington Post , 3/7/12)
  • "At Least 24 Of Obama's Bundlers Were Given Posts As Foreign Ambassadors, Including In Finland, Australia, Portugal And Luxembourg." "At least 24 Obama bundlers were given posts as foreign ambassadors, including in Finland, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg. Among them is Don Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who serves as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein." (T.W. Farnum, "The Influence Industry: Obama Gives Administration Jobs To Some Big Fundraisers," The Washington Post , 3/7/12)

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