- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

FORCE OF HABIT

President Obama, who promised to break with the tradition of naming top campaign supporters as ambassadors, is so far following the trend set by his predecessors who rewarded their blue-chip backers with jobs in London, Paris or other cushy diplomatic posts.

The Center for Responsive Politics has identified 19 political appointees so far, although two are Republicans. Most of them contributed exclusively to Democratic candidates and many to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign and inauguration.

“U.S. presidents have long rewarded campaign donors, fund-raisers and other loyalists with ambassadorships, and Democratic President Barack Obama seems to be no exception,” the center said.

Mr. Obama nominated Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah to serve as ambassador to China and Daniel M. Rooney, a longtime Republican who endorsed Mr. Obama, as ambassador to Ireland. The others are Democrats, some of whom raised huge sums from several donors through a political technique known as bundling. Others made only modest personal contributions.

The center identified the political supporters and their donations as follows:

Nicole Avant, a business executive nominated for the Bahamas who bundled about $500,000.

Donald Beyer, a former lieutenant governor of Virginia nominated for Switzerland who bundled at least $500,000.

Ivo Daadler, a foreign-policy expert nominated to NATO who donated $1,000.

Miguel H. Diaz, a theology professor nominated for the Vatican who donated $1,000.

Laurie Fulton, a lawyer nominated for Denmark who raised at least $100,000.

Donald Gips, a vice president of Level 3 Communications nominated for South Africa who raised about $500,000.

Mark H. Gitenstein, a lawyer nominated for Romania who donated $1,000.

Howard W. Gutman, a lawyer nominated for Belgium who bundled $775,000.

David C. Jacobson, a lawyer nominated for Canada who raised more than $50,000 and served as deputy finance chairman of Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign.

Vilma S. Martinez, a lawyer nominated for Argentina who donated $1,900.

Carlos Pascual, a foreign policy expert nominated for Mexico who donated $1,000.

Susan E. Rice, a foreign policy expert and now ambassador to the United Nations who donated $4,600.

Charles H. Rivkin, head of the entertainment company, Wild Brain Inc., nominated for France who bundled about $800,000.

Daniel M. Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers nominated for Ireland who donated $500.

John V. Roos, a lawyer nominated for Japan who bundled about $500,000.

James B. Smith, a retired Air Force brigadier general nominated to Saudi Arabia. He made no donations to the Obama campaign but has contributed $1,500 to past Democratic races.

Louis B. Susman, an investment banker nominated for Britain who bundled more than $400,000.

Vinai Thummalapally, a business executive and former college roommate of Mr. Obama’s nominated for Belize who bundled more than $100,000.

Mr. Huntsman, a former ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush, donated $2,300 to the Republican presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain.

PLAYING NO FAVORITES

The United States is staying out of politics in Afghanistan, according to the American ambassador who said Washington has no favorite in the Aug. 20 presidential and provincial elections.

“The United States does not support or oppose any particular presidential or provincial council candidate,” Ambassador Karl Eikenberry told reporters in the capital, Kabul, over the weekend.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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