Obama Nominates Bundler as Ambassador to France

by Molly Wharton

President Obama nominated Jane Hartley, a top campaign fundraiser, as the next ambassador to France on Friday. Hartley brings “a wealth of experience and talent” to the job, the president said. 

Hartley worked in the White House during the Carter administration, and is now the CEO of Observatory Group, a firm that offers economic and political advice for multinational corporations. She raised over half a million dollars for Obama’s reelection in 2012. 

Hartley’s nomination adds to a recent trend of Obama’s choosing top fundraisers for ambassadorships. According to the Center for Public Integrity, 30 percent of the president’s ambassador nominees in 2013 were big-time campaign fundraisers, whereas only 46 percent had been career diplomats.

Rob Barber, who bundled at least $600,000, was nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to Iceland, and Mark Gilbert, nominated for ambassadorship in New Zealand, has raised at least $1.2 million for Obama since 2007. Many other countries in Western Europe, including Spain, Germany, and the U.K., also have Obama’s bundlers as their U.S. ambassadors. See here for a map of ambassador posts held by bundlers created based on data from the Center for Public Integrity. 

Though many of these nominees do indeed have experience despite their being political nominations, others reveal a frightening lack of experience or knowledge requisite for their position. Obama’s nomination of businessman George Tsunis, who raised almost $1 million for the president’s reelection, as ambassador to Norway has drawn much criticism and opposition, especially from Norwegian-Americans. When appearing before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in January, Tsunis revealed a lack of knowledge of Norway’s political system, as well as the fact that he had never been to the country.

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