Top Obama Fundraisers Get Posts
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
By Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — More than 40% of President Obama's top-level fundraisers have secured posts in his administration, from key executive branch jobs to diplomatic postings in countries such as France, Spain and the Bahamas, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Twenty of the 47 fundraisers that Obama's campaign identified as collecting more than $500,000 have been named to government positions, the analysis found.

Overall, about 600 individuals and couples raised money from their friends, family members and business associates to help fund Obama's presidential campaign. USA TODAY's analysis found that 54 have been named to government positions, ranging from Cabinet and White House posts to advisory roles, such as serving on the economic recovery board charged with helping guide the country out of recession.

Nearly a year after he was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington, Obama also has taken a cue from his predecessors and appointed fundraisers to coveted ambassadorships, drawing protests from groups representing career diplomats. A separate analysis by the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats' union, found that more than half of the ambassadors named by Obama so far are political appointees, said Susan Johnson, president of the association. An appointment is considered political if it does not go to a career diplomat in the State Department.

That's a rate higher than any president in more than four decades, the group's data show, although that could change as the White House fills more openings. Traditionally about 30% of top diplomatic jobs go to political appointees, and roughly 70% to veteran State Department employees. Ambassadors earn $153,200 to $162,900 annually.

"It is time to end the spoils system and the de facto sale of ambassadorships," Johnson said. "The United States is best served by having experienced, knowledgeable and trained career officers fill all positions in our diplomatic service."

JOB RECIPIENTS:
The administration is "well aware of the historical target of career vs. non-career ambassadors, and we will be right on that target," said White House spokesman Thomas Vietor. He said the first round of diplomatic jobs traditionally go to political appointees because those are the first available when a president takes office.

Vietor said Obama also made it clear early on that he would "nominate extremely qualified individuals who didn't necessarily come up through the ranks of the State Department but want to serve their country."

Among the top Obama fundraisers with jobs: former technology executive Julius Genachowski as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Nicole Avant, a music industry executive who is the top envoy in the Bahamas. Neither granted interview requests.

Those not in the administration benefited in other ways, including attending invitation-only White House bashes, such as a St. Patrick's Day gala.

Fundraiser David Gail, a Dallas lawyer that the campaign identified as raising between $100,000 and $200,000, joined dignitaries in July for an East Room country music concert featuring Alison Krauss and Charley Pride. He said he greeted Obama after the event but doesn't have special access to the president, who was elected on a pledge to change business-as-usual in Washington.

"I've seen people who have been included on conference calls or events who were very involved at the grass-roots level," Gail said.

"Contributing doesn't guarantee a visit to the White House," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday, "nor does it preclude it."

Others not on the campaign's list of official bundlers also have reaped rewards.

Sacramento developer Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, a fundraiser in Hillary Rodham Clinton's unsuccessful presidential campaign, was nominated this month by Obama to serve as ambassador to Hungary. Clinton is now secretary of state.
Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis did not respond to interview requests, and her office referred calls to the White House.

It's too early to tell how big a role Obama's fundraisers will play. On the ambassador front alone, nearly 100 top positions remain unfilled, according to the American Foreign Service Association's tally.

Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, wants Obama to limit political appointees to about 10% of diplomatic jobs. "The direction is not good," he said of Obama's appointments to date, "but you cannot definitively say what the picture will be for the whole administration."

FROM FUNDRAISER TO STAFFER
President Obama has named 54 fundraisers to government positions. Here's a look at who they are and how much they raised. The campaign reported fundraising in broad ranges only.


RAISED MORE THAN $500,0000

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Nicole Avant

Ambassador to the Bahamas

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Matthew Barzun

Ambassador to Sweden

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Don Beyer

Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Jeff Bleich

Ambassador to Australia**

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Richard Danzig

Member, Defense Policy Board

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

William Eacho

Ambassador to Austria

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Julius Genachowski

Chairman of Federal Communications Commission

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Donald Gips

Ambassador to South Africa

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Howard Gutman

Ambassador to Belgium

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Scott Harris

General Counsel, Department of Energy

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

William Kennard

Ambassador to the European Union**

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Bruce Oreck

Ambassador to Finland

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Spencer Overton

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Thomas Perrelli

Associate Attorney General

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Abigail Pollack

Member, Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Charles Rivkin

Ambassador to France and Monaco

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

John Roos

Ambassador of Japan

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Francisco Sanchez

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Alan Solomont

Ambassador to Spain and Andorra**

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Cynthia Stroum

Ambassador to Luxembourg**

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

RAISED BETWEEN $200,000 and $500,000

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

A. Marisa Chun

Deputy associate attorney general

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Gregory Craig

White House counsel

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Norman Eisen

Special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Michael Froman

Deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Mark Gallogly

Member, Economic Recovery Advisory Board

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Max Holtzman

Senior adviser to the Agriculture secretary

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

James Hudson

Director, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Jeh Johnson

General counsel, Department of Defense

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Samuel Kaplan

Ambassador to Morocco

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Nicole Lamb-Hale

Deputy general counsel, Commerce Department

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Andres Lopez

Member, Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Cindy Moelis

Director, Commission on White House Fellows

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

William Orrick

Counselor to the assistant attorney general

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

John Phillips

Chairman, Commission on White House Fellows

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Penny Pritzker***

Member, Economic Recovery Advisory Board

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Bob Rivkin

General counsel, Transportation Department

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Desiree Rogers

White House social secretary

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Louis Susman

Ambassador to the United Kingdom

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Robert Sussman

Senior policy counsel, Environmental Protection Agency

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Christina Tchen

Director, White House Office of Public Engagement

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Barry White

Ambassador to Norway

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

RAISED BETWEEN $100,000 and $200,000

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Preeta Bansal

General counsel, Office of Management and Budget

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Laurie Fulton

Ambassador to Denmark

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Fred Hochberg

President, Export-Import Bank of the United States

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Valerie Jarrett

Senior adviser to the president

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Kevin Jennings

Assistant deputy secretary of Education

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Steven Rattner

Treasury Department adviser

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Miriam Sapiro

Deputy U.S. trade representative**

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Vinai Thummalapally

Ambassador to Belize

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

RAISED BETWEEN $50,000 and $100,000

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Eric Holder

Attorney general

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

David Jacobson

Ambassador to Canada

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Ronald Kirk

U.S. trade representative

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Rocco Landesman

Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

Susan Rice

Ambassador to the United Nations

http://i.usatoday.net/_common/_images/ipr/grey.gif

** Nominated, not yet confirmed by Senate

*** National finance chairwoman

Sources: Obama campaign, Public Citizen; White House; USA TODAY research

 

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DIPLOMACY
200 18th Street, NW, Suite 902
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202/331-3721
Fax: 202/833-4555
academy@academyofdiplomacy.org


Modified on: Monday, November 2, 2009

© Copyright 2004

Site Index