Ambassadorial nominees contacted by The Washington Times said they could not comment specifically on any criticism that their nominations were based on their fundraising or political support.
Courtney Dorman, a spokeswoman for Mr. Roos, said, “As you can imagine, John is deeply honored by the president’s intention to name him U.S. ambassador to Japan, and he looks forward to the confirmation process.”
Mr. Roos, chief executive of the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law firm, raised at least $500,000 for Mr. Obama’s campaign. After the Roos nomination, the Nikkei Weekly in Japan called him “an unknown quantity” who “apparently has few close friends or important friends in Japan.”
Describing Mr. Roos as a “staunch Democrat,” the paper also said he was “a major fundraiser for Obama’s presidential campaign and is clearly part of the president’s human network.”
If confirmed, Mr. Roos would replace Tom Schieffer, appointed by President Bush in 2005. Mr. Schieffer was part of an investment group including Mr. Bush that bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in 1989.
Among other big fundraisers, Mr. Obama’s recent nominations include:
c Laurie Fulton, a lawyer who raised at least $100,000 for Mr. Obama, to be ambassador to Denmark.
c Louis Susman, a former bank executive and prominent Democratic donor who raised at least $200,001, for the United Kingdom.
c Charles Rivkin, who recently resigned as chief executive and president of W!ldbrain, an entertainment production company, and who raised at least $500,000, for France.
c Vinai Thummalapally, a roommate of Mr. Obama’s at Occidental College who raised between $100,000 and $200,000, for Belize.
c Bruce Oreck, a lawyer who raised at least $500,000 and worked at his family’s business, the Oreck Corp., seller of Oreck vacuum cleaners, until the company was sold in 2003. He has been nominated for ambassador to Finland.
Altogether, Mr. Obama’s ambassador nominees and their families raised at least $4 million for Mr. Obama’s presidential run and another $1.6 million for his inauguration, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. One notable exception was Mr. Obama’s pick for ambassador to China - former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican who raised funds for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential run against Mr. Obama.
Only in America
According to the Foreign Service Act of 1980, “contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor” in the appointment of ambassadors.
The American Foreign Service Association, which represents career foreign service workers, cites the act in asking Mr. Obama to reduce the percentage of political appointees in the diplomatic ranks from 30 percent to 10 percent.View Entire Story
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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