Obama Criticized For “Selling” Ambassadorships To Highest Donors

President_Barack_ObamaAmerican diplomats are condemning what they view as President Barack Obama’s selling ambassadorships to high donors. This has long been a problem, which I criticized in earlier administrations, and Obama supporters are likely to return to the refrain that he is just doing what his predecessors did. That is never a very satisfying answer. This is a form of corruption as presidents give high diplomatic posts to people who give them loads of money. Obama has apparently expanded on this sordid practice to a level that is alarming diplomats. The fact is that all ambassadorships should be confined to people selected for their diplomatic skills, preferably from the ranks of our career diplomats or academia.

For years, I have been in conversations with people close to the White House and President Obama who openly discuss the amount of money required to secure an ambassadorship. Just last week a ranking Democratic operative told me that a friend had put together around $2 million in donations because he was told that “the price had gone up.”

That is the very point of the article below where it is being reported that the price is up to $1.8 million. It is not clear why the White House does not simply post the price list on the website to facilitate these purchases. I recently gave a speech and had dinner with a major donor who said that he gave “his” ambassadorship to his wife. She loved being called an ambassador.

Some donors raise so much that they are allowed to travel around the world playing ambassador. Obama’s campaign finance chairman, Matthew Barzun, was given the choice diplomatic post at the Court of St James’s, which comes with a residence with a garden that is second only in size to that of Buckingham Palace. He just finished a stint as ambassador to Sweden.

Thomas Pickering has denounced the practice as “simony” or the selling of public office. He is obviously right that “it has the effect of diminishing perhaps the sense that the US is treating these countries with the respect they deserve.”

Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), has also denounced the record of Obama in these dubious transactions.

I remain astonished that we have allowed this practice to continue. Obama apologists have to do more than simply say that he is simply following the same corrupt practices of his predecessors. It appears that he is a standout in the selling of public offices.

Source: Guardian

99 thoughts on “Obama Criticized For “Selling” Ambassadorships To Highest Donors”

  1. justateacher:

    either way is fine with me, not all men are “johns” and not all women are “whores”. It would be better to do both at least with respect to government and that would be to eliminate the various regulations which can be favorably applied to give one company a competitive advantage over another.

    Government is always force. It can be used for good or to destroy.

  2. Gene H:

    Not all businessmen pay tribute to Washington, in fact Microsoft paid very little until they were sued by the government. Now they pay a lot.

    I suppose the shop keepers who pay protection money are just buying insurance from the local family too?

  3. I thought the United States, a superpower, would use only merit to designate its ambassadors, especially for those who would be sent to other great powers (U.K., France, other), and choose among those who know the country, its culture and political elite.

    The only differece with the XIXth British Army is that this army tried to limit this phenomen by making sure the dilletantes don’t go near critical posts (ie, artillery), and, moreover, everybody knew about this phenomen (they had even official price tables!).

  4. Someone above mentioned Joseph Kennedy and his role as Ambassador to Great Britain. At the time we derided him as holding Chamberlain’s umbrella. If any of you recall, the Brit Prime Minister was an appeaser who allowed Hitler to run rampant until it was too late. Giving a rich boy with no international experience a key job like that was very dumb of FDR but then FDR was very dumb and self centered. He did not even tell his Vice President that we had the atom bomb.

  5. Nick

    What the hell?

    Maybe edging into sanctimony, but you want to switch over to history class, disconnected classrooms and teachers?

    But as long as you have opted to dance on over to another playing field….

    What you taught your kids is damn scary given your view of law, citizenship,, and ethics – all topics that may come up a time or two.

  6. justateacher, As you may know I was also a high school history teacher for 5 years. So, I understand your perspective, your naivete, and sanctimony. The classroom is disconnected, as are too many teachers. I much prefer the real world, warts and all. I’m simply giving you the reality. That’s something absent in too many classrooms. We need to teach kids how it should be, and how it is. I just taught you how it is. You can judge me as you wish. Sleep well, I look forward for more discussions w/ you. I like your inquisitive mind.

  7. Damn, Bron. I just KNEW I should have kept my bid to myself. Now there’s going to a bidding war for the ambassadorship of Tuvalu.

  8. “I dont think I ever said businessmen were all rightous actors.”

    Your entire premise is based on that assumption, Bron. The “but for” test. But for all those favors, businessmen wouldn’t bribe.

    Bribery is a crime that takes a minimum of two bad actors.

    Always has been. Always will be.

  9. Bron, here’s a better remedy….

    Sew up all “whore” vaginas. Or we can cut off all dicks.

    I vote for the dick remedy.

  10. Gene H:

    my rationale is that if government didnt have favors to provide, businessmen would not be able to bribe pols because there would be no favors to provide and so nothing to be gained.

    I dont think I ever said businessmen were all rightous actors.

    I liken it to a prostitute. If she doesnt have any equipment, their isnt anything to buy so why would you give her any money? Since we are always going to have whores and johns, in the case of government we can eliminate the equipment by getting rid of regulations which can be manipulated by government for private benefit. Once K St. can provide no benefit to their clients, the money will dry up.

    This isnt rape, it is a whore trolling for clients.

  11. rALPH Adamo:

    thanks for the heads up, I just sent him a bid of $1,500.00

    Did you place it on Ebay or on the other website they set up?

  12. Nick, what shocks me is that you haven’t a clue about what you have just told me about what you did as a PI and have a complete disconnect from how wrong it is. Further, you offer an argument that there is nothing wrong with such activity because all information was the truth. I believe you that you only provided accurate information. But, Nick, every time you got some info from some clerk, some cop, some government employee that was confidential, you were commiting a corrupt act.

    Nick – the monster you were warning us about was you.

  13. “To land a high-profile ambassadorship, it helps to have raised a ton of money for a successful presidential candidate and know how to throw a good party. …

    But that’s just the price of admission. The funds embassies receive from the U.S. Department of State don’t begin to cover the high costs of the frequent parties and dinners ambassadors are expected to host. Some wind up paying more than $1 million a year out of their own pockets … ”


  14. I’ve got my bid in to become Ambassador of Tuvalu. I figure that most wealthy people don’t even know about it. Tuvalu is composed of 9 coral atolls along a 360 mile chain in Polynesia and is about 9 square miles. I’m bidding $1,000 for the spot. I know that’s chump change for Obama, but I just might get lucky.

  15. justa, The conversation first came up when it was learned the NSA was collecting phone records on everyone. Everyone was shocked, maybe you weren’t? Most everyone was outraged, maybe not you? The NSA assured us those records were confidential. And, as I said, whenever the govt. tells you records are confidential assume they’re lying. Now, they may really believe that when they say it, but I’m telling you if you know the right people you can get just about anything. And, a the vast majority of it isn’t about money. It’s just knowing the right person. They do you a favor, you owe them a favor when they need it.

    Regarding personal information, that genie left the bottle a couple decades ago. And she ain’t going back in! If you know a PI or attorney, they should have access to Accurint, IRB, or other legit databases. Have them run a background check on yourself. Hopefully, if you know them they’ll only charge you the cost, $25-50. You will probably be shocked.

  16. justateacher, Cook County court did have basic, adequate open records. You had to jump through hoops[this was early 80’s]. I’m not sure if you know, but all court records should be accessible to the public. That includes, divorce, civil, criminal, traffic, probate. The 2 exceptions are paternity and juvenile records. Birth records and death records are open in Cook County and I believe in every courthouse I have ever visited, and that’s probably a hundred in several different states.

    The Chicago Police and Fire Dept. had NO open records..NONE. However, you just found a detective or fire captain, paid him money, and you got the records that should be accessible to any citizen. The same for a rap sheets. In Wi. rap sheets and booking photos are open records, Chicago you got to pay. Driver’s license and license plate #’s in Illinois you had to pay someone. In Wi. and most states they’re open records, maybe in Illinois now..don’t know. In Wi. PI’s and attorneys can set up accounts w/ DMV and get driving, vehicle, and plate records via phone or computer. Plus there are great databases available to attorneys and PI’s, Accurint being my favorite. You would be shocked what info you can get for a $25 report.

    As far as Fed records, the Federal Courts took a giant step in setting up Pacer. If you set up an account, you can access any Federal Court record via computer. All Fed law enforcement records are closed, you got to know someone. Social Security/IRS are closed, as they should be. But, you can get them.

    I won’t tell you what records I got that made me say a prayer. However, I had sources in the Federal govt., phone companies, banks, etc. that were used. Whether you believe it or not, all I was ever looking for was the truth. People lie, cheat, steal, conspire, etc. They do it for money. I would be hired to find facts to prove it. As I’ve said, there will always be the seven deadly sins, and that’s why there’s always plenty of work.

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