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Obama’s Bumbling Bundler Ambassadors

- January 31, 2014

Last Night, Obama Nominated Suzi LeVine – A Member Of His Campaign’s National Finance Committee – For Ambassador To Switzerland. (Office Of White House Press Secretary, “President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts,” Press Release, 1/30/14)

OBAMA’S PREVIOUS BUNDLER-AMBASSADOR NOMINEES ARE NOT WOWING THE WORLD

Earlier This Month, Obama’s Bundler-Ambassador Nominee To Norway Bungled Questions On The Country’s Government

Obama Bundler-Ambassador Nominee To Norway George Tsunis Made Some Comments That “Revealed His Knowledge Of The Country Where He Is Trying To Secure A Top Diplomatic Post Is Shaky.” “Relations between Norway and the United States are usually a placid affair, going back centuries to when the Norwegian Constitution of 1814 took the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence as inspiration. However, President Barack Obama's pick for ambassador to Norway seems to be spicing up the diplomatic relationship by sticking his foot in his mouth before even getting to the post. George Tsunis, also a top Obama bundler, recently made comments about Norway's political situation that revealed his knowledge of the country where he is trying to secure a top diplomatic post is shaky.” (Luke Johnson, “Obama Bundler, Nominated For Ambassador To Norway, Bungles Questions On Norway,” The Huffington Post, 1/23/14)

Tsunis Thought The Progress Party, “Part Of the Center-Right Coalition Government In Norway, With Seven Ministers” Was A “Fringe” Element That Government Had Denounced. “‘What do you think the appeal of the Progress Party was, according to the Norwegian voters?’ asked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Jan. 16. ‘That is a very seminal question,’ Tsunis said. ‘Generally Norway has, and is very proud of being a very open, transparent, Democratic, parliamentary government. One of the byproducts of being such an open society and placing such a value on free speech is you get some fringe elements that have a microphone that spew their hatred and although I will tell you that Norway has been very quick to denounce them -- ’ McCain interrupted, pointing out that the Progress Party is part of the center-right coalition government in Norway, with seven ministers.” (Luke Johnson, “Obama Bundler, Nominated For Ambassador To Norway, Bungles Questions On Norway,” The Huffington Post, 1/23/14)

  • “Tsunis Also Referred To Norway's ‘President,’ Despite The Fact That The Country Is A Constitutional Monarchy.” “In last week's hearing, Tsunis also referred to Norway's ‘president,’ despite the fact that the country is a constitutional monarchy.” (Luke Johnson, “Obama Bundler, Nominated For Ambassador To Norway, Bungles Questions On Norway,” The Huffington Post, 1/23/14)

“Norway's English-Language News Site Described Tsunis As Having ‘Total Ignorance Of Norway’ After His Performance.” (Aamer Madhani, “Obama ‘Confident’ With Ambassador Pick Despite Blunders,” USA Today, 1/24/14)

Tsunis, CEO Of Chartwell Hotels, Bundled Over $500,000 For Obama’s 2012 Campaign. “Tsunis has been a top fundraiser for President Barack Obama and the Democratic party. Tsunis, the CEO of Chartwell Hotels, bundled over $500,000 for Obama's 2012 campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.” (Luke Johnson, “Obama Bundler, Nominated For Ambassador To Norway, Bungles Questions On Norway,” The Huffington Post, 1/23/14)

  • Tsunis Also Donated $300,000 To Democratic-Leaning Super PACs In 2012. “He also donated $300,000 to Democratic-leaning super PACs in 2012, according to FEC records. He attended a state dinner with Prime Minister David Cameron in March 2012.” (Luke Johnson, “Obama Bundler, Nominated For Ambassador To Norway, Bungles Questions On Norway,” The Huffington Post, 1/23/14)

Obama Bundler-Ambassador Nominee Colleen Bell May Not Be The Best Pick For Ambassador To Hungary

Hollywood Producer Colleen Bell, Who Raised Or Contributed At Least $800,000 For Obama In 2012, Was Nominated To Be Ambassador To Hungary.  “Colleen Bell, the Hollywood producer behind the TV soap ‘The Bold and the Beautiful,’ raised or contributed about $800,000 to Obama 2012, according to OpenSecrets.org. So she was picked as ambassador to Hungary — a country that, as we’ve noted, has vexed Washington of late over human rights and other issues.” (Center For Responsive Politics, Accessed 1/31/14)

During Her Appearance Before The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bell Gave An Incoherent Answer To Sen. John McCain’s Question About U.S. Interests In Hungary. “‘What are our strategic interests in Hungary?’ McCain asked. ‘Well, we have,’ Bell said, ‘our strategic interests, in terms of what are our key priorities in Hungary, I think our key priorities are to improve upon, as I mentioned, the security relationship and also the law enforcement and to promote business opportunities, increase trade . . . ’ McCain interrupted: ‘I’d like to ask again what our strategic interests in Hungary are.’ ‘Our strategic interests are to work collaboratively as NATO allies,’ she said, ‘to work to promote and protect the security, both — for both countries and for — and for the world, to continue working together on the cause of human rights around the world, to build that side of our relationship while also maintaining and pursuing some difficult conversations that might be necessary in the coming years.’ ‘Great answer,’ McCain said, dripping scorn.” (Al Kamen, “Obama Ambassador Nominees – Baucus, Bell, And Tsunis – Hit Bumps In Hearings,” The Washington Post, 1/30/14)

Obama Remains Confident About All Of His Ambassador Nominees

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “This President Has Confidence In All Of The Nominees He's Put Forward For Ambassadorial Positions.” Q:  “I wanted to ask you about a confirmation hearing recently that has gotten some viral attention, and that is the President's nominee for ambassador to Norway, George Tsunis.  He bungled the answer to a question from Senator McCain; he seemed to not have a full understanding of the coalition government in Norway.  I wonder if the President still has confidence in Mr. Tsunis’s ability to represent the country.” CARNEY:  “I didn’t see the hearing or the testimony.  I can tell you that this President has confidence in all of the nominees he's put forward for ambassadorial positions as well as other positions in the administration, in the government.  But beyond that I don’t have a response.” (White House Press Briefing, 1/24/14)

FLASHBACK: OBAMA WASN’T ALWAYS SO KEEN ON BUNDLER APPOINTMENTS AND PLEDGED TO LIMIT THE INFLUENCE OF DONORS

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)

  • 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)
     
  • 36.8 Percent Of Obama’s Ambassador Nominees Have Been Political. (American Foreign Service Association, Accessed 1/31/14) 

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