Sources: Obama picks for ambassadorships include top donors
February 28th, 2013
01:36 AM ET
5 years ago

Sources: Obama picks for ambassadorships include top donors

Washington (CNN) - Major donors of President Barack Obama are leading candidates for ambassadorships, Democratic sources tell CNN.

Marc Lasry, founder of Avenue Capital Group and a key Wall Street backer of Obama during the election, is the leading candidate for ambassador to France, according to two Democratic sources.

The Lasrys were passionate supporters of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary campaign, but became big Obama bundlers in the last election cycle.

Patrick Gaspard, a former executive director of the Democratic National Committee, is a leading candidate to be ambassador to South Africa.

And Matthew Barzun, an Obama campaign finance chair and former ambassador to Switzerland, is the leading candidate for top envoy to England, the sources said.

According to one Democratic source, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, is also being considered for an ambassadorship.

It is rumored that she will be nominated to be the ambassador to Canada, though Bloomberg reported Wednesday night that she will be nominated as the ambassador to Japan.

Kennedy endorsed Obama early on in the 2008 election, and was a national co-chair of his 2012 campaign. A different source close to Kennedy says she hasn't been asked to do anything and isn't being vetted.

So far there are no confirmations of any nominations for Vogue editor Anna Wintour. In December, Bloomberg reported that Wintour - another big Obama bundler –- was on the short list for an ambassadorship.

Filed under: Caroline Kennedy • President Obama
soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. walter

    I love these comments from the laughable libs. Any one who doesn't bow down to Obama gets lambasted – even lib sites like this one. Oh how the lowly have fallen.

    February 28, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  2. Rudy NYC


    Gee, and this from the guy who in 2008 said that he would take the money out of politics. Gee, didn't he mean what he said??
    Yes, he did mean what he said in 2008. However, the right wing fought hard to not only keep money in politics, but made sure that it would be available in unlimited amounts. Can you say "Citzens United"? "Super PACs? This is how the right wing wanted the game to be played. Your complaint is with your conservative leaders who are getting badly beaten at their own political games.

    February 28, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  3. rs

    I see the usual posters here this AM. The ones with no memory. Find me a President who has not used diplomatic posts in this way. Reagan was blatant, so was Bush 2nd. This isn't even unique to the U.S.. Most diplomats harken from the privileged class. Just more hollow bantering from the gutless right.

    February 28, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  4. Ancient Texan

    So, where is the surprise? This fits the pattern of the li'l dictator up to this point. Now, where is the outrage?

    February 28, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  5. FC

    A bit puzzled as to the somewhat nasty partisan tone the comments are holding. Ambassadorships and similar posts have ALWAYS been awarded to donors and friends of any president. Surprise, surprise. Difficult posts normally go to seasoned members of the diplomatic corps, but Canada? really you object to that?, the dog could take that one. Can anyone explain Dan Rooney as Ambassador to Ireland other than money? I have an acquaintance who has been in the diplomatic corps for a number of years, bouncing back and forth supporting candidates depending upon who he felt was going to win. Been doing this for maybe 20 years. This time, though, he made the mistake of backing Romney..... Guess history and fact has gone astray a bit - again.

    February 28, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  6. Randy

    And the press won't call Him on this either. Just business as usual for the Narcissistic Community Organizer.

    February 28, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  7. rs

    Rick McDaniel
    Obama pays back those who support him........and does everything in his power to defeat everyone who opposes him.....
    Rick, Rick, Rick..... and NO Republican EVER did ANYTHING like that, right? Not toadies like McConnell, Certainly never Nixon. You're just mad because Mr. Obama plays politics better than the GOP can these days.

    February 28, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  8. ST

    Come on folks let us all get real. It is human nature. We all always remember those who helped us to be where we are now. Question: Who in the right mind expected Pres. Obama to appoint people like: Sarah Palin, Alen West, Sean Hannity to be ambassador to any country? I suppose; None.

    February 28, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    So what?
    All Presidents have done this.
    Different set of rules for THIS President?
    If it were up to some he'd have to take public transportation to get around.

    February 28, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Bob Kebic wrote:

    Being the best and the brightest means almost nothing these days – it's not what you know but who you know that makes the difference! Well, it worked wonders for the Communist Eastern Europe.
    And it works even better on Wall Street and in corporate America. Communist Eastern Europe had another feature. The had government agencies that ensured that everyone thought clean thoughts. Violaters were severely punished by these thought police. It worked very much like today's Republican Party.

    February 28, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  11. John

    Unless you show that these choices where not qualified or that better choices where skipped over ( which you did not in any way demonstrate) than this article and all the wing nut whining is just meaningless right wing, Hannity level nonsense, OH no the leading ambassador to Switzerland is being nominated for Ambassador to England? Must be something wrong there. The best candidates where more likely to be supporting President Obama's re elections as was any competent, intelligent and capable person. It only makes sense to choose from this pool over the Ted Nugent and Donald Trump crowd.

    February 28, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  12. Mara Tam

    And just when did this practice begin? Which century? Has been this way for ages - check the Repub. |Presidents' Ambassadors

    February 28, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  13. Travis

    These supporters weren't just donors, they were trusted advisors who the President looked to for "policy advice" durring his first term and durring the campaign; they have a great working relationship with the President. They are highly qualified for these position, which is why the President seeked their advice durring his 1st term and campaign ,

    What's strange about that? It's no different than politicians naming campaign managagers and advisors/supporters to their Staffs once they get elected.

    February 28, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  14. amf140

    Stuff seems to happen almost weekly with this Administration. The arrogance is just beyond anything that this country has ever seen. I know. I know. It's Bush's fault or Bush did the same thing. We learned as kids that if someone did something stupid, that didn't give you an excuse to do it too. We need some good parenting for this White House.

    February 28, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  15. firewalker25b

    Just like Obama,his Chicago Thugs and Hollywood Elite....This is a JOKE of a President.

    February 28, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  16. bear

    The editor for this website must be on vacation to let this article in. Whoever did this will be in big trouble when the editor returns.

    February 28, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  17. PaulG

    Go figure a corrupt admin rewarding political donors with lucrative nominations. Next they will be attacking our rights...oh that's right they already are.

    February 28, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  18. tuckp

    These negative comments and calls of "crony capitalism" are hysterical to me. Who did you think the President would nominate for these ambassadorships – Newt Gingrich? Of course he is going to nominate people who agree with his political philosophy, and one way to determine this agreement is through sponsorship of the campaign.
    And to the charge that these people are "unqualified" – exactly what qualifications are needed to be an ambassador? An ambassador needs negotiating skills, yes, but primarily the ambassador needs to manage and provide leadership for the professional diplomatic staff in the embassy. They do most of the day-to-day work. To say that someone who was the founder and managing partner of a large investment firm, or the executive director of an organization as complex as the DNC doesn't have managerial skills just shows that you aren't thinking.

    February 28, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  19. Tom

    Why is this even news? Change the name from Obama to Bush, Clinton. Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon back to Washington. EVERY President rewards supporters...big deal

    February 28, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  20. One L

    Doesn't EVERY President do this? Why is this news? This is customarily how the President rewards his biggest supporters

    February 28, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. Tom

    Wow the anti-Obama trolls came to the surface on this one.

    February 28, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. mforrest

    Obama has appointed 36% of his major donors (those donating over $100K) to ambassadorships. Bush appointed 30%. Clinton appointed 28%. Bush Sr. appointed 30%. I'm not saying it's right, and Obama has clearly won/lost in the numbers game, but it happens, across all presidents, across both parties.

    Also, consider that being able to raise significant amounts of money for a presidential campaign involves good negotiation and relationship management skills, both of which are key requirements for an ambassador. I don't pretend to know what qualifications the appointees have, nor do I have the time to research it, but it's entirely possible they have been well chosen and are highly qualified. Before stating that they are unqualified, some people should probably research the matter.

    February 28, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  23. uthor

    This is a time-honored process–though it's always seemed wrong. Money and support have always been the road to appointeeships in our system.

    February 28, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  24. One L

    I would like to know who CNN's "sources" are – they should get new sources...

    February 28, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  25. missvagal

    I am shocked! Shocked, I say. Why, such things have never, ever happened before! Who would ever think that the people who supported you (including money) would be under consideration for any position after you won? Simply shocking...

    February 28, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8