Obama nominates several financial backers as ambassadors
June 14th, 2013
05:06 PM ET
7 months ago

Obama nominates several financial backers as ambassadors

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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.

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.


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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. tom l.

    No corruption in this Adminstration here whatsoever. Nothing to see here. Just people basically paying to be diplomats.

    June 14, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. Captain Awesome

    So president Voldemort's fat cat supporters get rewarded with a nice cushy job?

    June 14, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Malory Archer

    tom l.
    No corruption in this Adminstration here whatsoever. Nothing to see here. Just people basically paying to be diplomats.

    June 14, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
    Captain Awesome
    So president Voldemort's fat cat supporters get rewarded with a nice cushy job?

    June 14, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    No different than any other administration. These are political patronage positions and change hands with every President. The next President will do the same as will her successor and so on and so on. Did you guys REALLY NOT know that???!!! If ya did, then you're hypocritical crybabies. If ya didn't, weeeeeellllllll...... So which is it?

    June 14, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. Malory Archer

    Can I be Ambassador to the Netherlands? :-)

    June 14, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. george

    this post is 46 mins. old as i type. notice the lack of kool aid drinkers response. they dont want to touch this one. this clown makes carter look good.

    June 14, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Politics as usual. Money is the milk of politics. Nothing will change in Washington until there is pulblic financing of elections.

    June 14, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  7. Thomas

    @tom l.
    No corruption in this Administration here whatsoever. Nothing to see here. Just people basically paying to be diplomats.

    =====

    Same as it ever was !

    In 1989 President Ronald Reagan appointed Shirley Temple Black as the ambassador to Czechoslovakia. Both times, the Senate unanimously confirmed Black.

    We need to change the law , ambassadors should work there way up the department of state . We send bimbos and bozo's to run our embassy as if it's a fashion show or debutant ball.

    June 14, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. tims

    On the world stage Obama is a grade school player.The only way he could do worst is to try harder.

    June 14, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Let's send them all to Islamic countries, and eliminate his funding, as more and more Benghazi's occur.

    June 14, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  10. RJ

    Some things in this administration are all too transparent. The rampant corruption and democratic payoffs with taxpayer dollars!

    June 14, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  11. Tampa Tim

    And the right wingnuts thought the president would appoint Mitten's supporters.

    June 14, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  12. wesmorgan1

    Of course, every commenter blasting this Administration has complete amnesia of any events prior to this Administration.

    Ambassadorial positions have been political near-sinecures for decades. Here are a few recent names to spur your memory:

    David H. Wilkins
    Michael M. Wood
    Roland Edmond Arnall
    Ann Louise Wagner
    Eduardo Aguirre Jr.

    That's just a quick sample. Now, if you want to argue that political appointees should NEVER receive ambassadorships, that's a completely valid argument; the fact that you only seem to care about it with THIS President marks you as nothing more than a typical hypocrite.

    June 14, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  13. AK_Steve

    Give me a break. Every president does this. This is how ambassadors become ambassadors. Those calling this corruption are just plain ignorant. Every president, even the holy president himself – Ronald Reagon (or maybe "W" is the holy than thou GOP favorite these days) – appointed donors to ambassador positions.

    June 14, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  14. Ed1

    No surprise here just paying off his debts at the tax payers expense.

    June 14, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |