(CNSNews.com) – President Obama on Tuesday nominated two major campaign bundlers to two of the most prized ambassadorships available anywhere – London and Rome – part of a pattern that has seen him reward at least 18 top fundraisers with plum diplomatic positions since 2009.
The White House said the post of ambassador to the United Kingdom will go, subject to confirmation, to Matthew Barzun, an Internet pioneer and investor who served as the Obama campaign finance chairman in 2008, as ambassador to Sweden from 2009-2011, and then again as finance chairman for the president’s 2012 campaign.
The ambassadorship to Italy will go to John R. Phillips, a Washington lawyer who chairs the president’s commission that selects candidates to be White House fellows. Phillips is the husband of Linda Douglass, a former network journalist who served as communications director for the Obama White House’s Office of Health Reform.
According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, Barzun bundled at least $500,000 for the Obama campaign in 2008 and at least $500,000 again in 2012; Phillips bundled at least $500,000 for Obama in 2012 and between $200,000 and $500,000 in 2008.
Barzun is in line to take up the post vacated by Louis Susman, a retired Chicago investment banker who bundled between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama in 2008, before being nominated as ambassador to the U.K. the following May.
Barzun and Phillips are the latest in a string of Obama bundlers to be nominated to ambassadorial posts.
Already serving are the ambassadors to Belize (bundled $100,000-$200,000 for the Obama campaign in 2008), Canada ($50,000-$100,000), Czech Republic ($200,000-$500,000), Finland ($500,000+), France ($500,000+), Japan ($500,000+) and Norway ($200,000-$500,000).
Joining them are the current U.S. ambassadors to the European Union in Brussels, and to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), based in Jakarta, both of whom bundled at least $500,000 each for the Obama campaign in 2008.
In addition, Obama has nominated another seven campaign bundlers to ambassador positions, in some cases replacing yet other bundlers who got the posts during his first term (including one who drew criticism during Obama’s re-election campaign with comments about anti-Semitism and Israel.)
Awaiting confirmation are Obama’s nominees as ambassador to Berlin (John Emerson, $100,000-$200,000), Brussels (Denise Bauer, $200,000- $500,000), Madrid (James Costos, $500,000+), Santo Domingo (James "Wally" Brewster, $500,000+), Singapore (Kirk Wagar, $500,000+), Vienna (Alexa Wesner, $200,000-$500,000) and the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva (Keith Harper, $500,000+).
Finally, Obama has nominated as ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford – not a campaign bundler, but his 2012 campaign finance director. Read more via CNS News...