Obama bundlers tapped for diplomatic jobs

By Laurie Bennett

May 29, 2009 at 10:16am

President Obama is following the long-established political tradition of rewarding major supporters with plum diplomatic posts.

This week, he nominated 12 ambassadors, including to coveted locations such as France, United Kingdom and the Vatican.

An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that while Obama tapped several career Foreign Service officers, he also named supporters who, with their spouses, have contributed almost $1 million to Democrats. Among them:

  • Louis B. Susman, Obama’s nominee for the UK post, is nicknamed “the vacuum cleaner” for his ability to scoop up dollars for Democratic candidates. Susman was a bundler for the Obama presidential campaign and was national finance chairman for John Kerry’s 2004 bid.
  • The nominee for ambassador to France, Charlie Rivkin, was also a bundler for Obama. Rivkin is former CEO of the Jim Henson Co. and Wild Brain.
  • California lawyer John V. Roos, CEO of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, raised at least $500,000 for the Obama campaign. Roos also raised money for Kerry in 2004 and Bill Bradley in 2000.
  • Another Obama bundler, lawyer Laurie S. Fulton, has been nominated as ambassador to Denmark. Fulton is a partner at the prominent Washington law firm, Williams and Connolly. Obama chose another partner at the firm, Greg Craig, to be White House counsel.

Political debts aren’t always monetary. Pittsburgh Steelers owner Daniel M. Rooney, who endorsed Obama during the contentious Pennsylvania primary, has been nominated as ambassador to Ireland.

Former congressman Tim Roemer, who also backed Obama during the primaries, has been selected as ambassador to India.

The Associated Press reports that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended Obama’s selections Thursday, describing them as “a group of committed individuals and proven professionals.”

Gibbs acknowledged that Obama “was asked in the transition and said there will be some — let me quote him — ‘political appointees serving abroad.’”

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