White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday fended off questions about why so many mega-donors to President Barack Obama’s campaign have ended up being nominated as ambassadors.
Jonathon Karl of ABC asked whether Obama’s nominee for the ambassador to France – a post vacant since November — will “be someone who has donated or bundled or helped raise $500,000 or more for the Obama campaign?
Carney seemed dismissive.
“As you know, being a donor to the president’s campaign does not guarantee you a job in the administration but it does not prevent you from getting one,” Carney responded. “And the fact is the president has made nominations to ambassadorial posts and other posts from the ranks of the private sector, from government service, and has put in place qualified nominees across the board.”
Karl followed: “More than half of the appointments he has made to ambassadorial posts gave, or bundled or helped raise more than $500,000 for his re-election campaign. Is that a coincidence?
Carney repeated his earlier assertion.
“The president takes the approach that he finds qualified nominees for these posts from a variety of walks of life,” Carney said. “And in that, he’s not different from his predecessors. What I can tell you is being a donor does not get you a job in this administration, nor does it preclude you from getting one.”
Last week, the president’s nominee to be ambassador to Argentina, Noah Bryson Mamet, who bundled $500,000 for him, acknowledged having never been to Argentina. A State Department spokeswoman said she did not know if Mamet knew how to speak Spanish.
Obama’s nominee for ambassador to Norway, George Tsunis — who raised $1.3 million for the president — and his nominee to be ambassador to Hungary, Colleen Bradley Bell — who raised $800,000 — each demonstrated little knowledge about the countries they wish to work in during a January Senate confirmation hearing.
The Center for Public Integrity found that during his second term, Obama nominated 23 bundlers who raised a total of $16.1 million for his two presidential campaigns to be ambassadors.
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