Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama Friday afternoon nominated several of his major financial backers as ambassadors to key European allies.
He nominated Rufus Gifford, who had served as finance chairman of the inaugural committee, as ambassador to Denmark. Gifford also was finance director of the president’s re-election campaign. That effort brought in more than $700 million partly by finding new ways of maximizing small donors.
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Gifford is a long-time Democratic finance official. He served as finance director for the Democratic National Committee between 2009 and 2011, and according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics helped then-Sen. John Kerry raise $30 million for his 2004 presidential campaign.
The president also nominated John Emerson as the next ambassador to Germany. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Emerson raised at least $500,000 for the president’s campaign last year and between $100,000 and $200,000 for his 2008 campaign. He also raised $175,000 for Obama's 2009 presidential inaugural committee. Emerson is president of private client services for the global investment management firm Capital Group Companies.
Also tapped for an ambassadorial nomination is James Costos for Spain. He serves as vice president of global licensing and retail for HBO. According to Federal Election Commission records, he gave more than $67,000 to help the president and Democrats last year and also donated to Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean and Cory Booker’s upcoming Senate race.
“It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to join the Administration to serve the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come,” the president said in a statement announcing the nominations which will now go before the Senate.
The Human Rights Campaign congratulated Costos and Gifford, both of whom are openly gay, on their nominations. Spain and Denmark both recognize same-sex marriage.
In a statement, the HRC urged the Senate to confirm the nominations, describing Costos as a "true citizen of the world" and Gifford as a "terrific choice to represent our country.
The White House also announced Liliana Ayalde as the nominee for ambassador to Brazil, Ken Hackett as the next envoy to the Vatican and Patricia Marie Haslach as ambassador to Ethiopia.