ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked White House press secretary Jay Carney who President Obama will nominate for the Ambassadorship to France Wednesday in the White House press conference. Specifically, Karl questioned whether President Obama will nominate a donor for the important post which has been vacant since November.
37 percent of Obama administration ambassadors are political appointees without diplomatic experience, and more than half of those individuals bundled over $500,000 for the Obama campaign. Historically, presidents have kept these quid pro quo appointments to less than a third of total posts.
Carney replied the administration has not yet decided on a nominee, but being a donor does not guarantee or preclude one from getting a job in the Obama administration:
JONATHAN KARL: — while the French flags are flying, why is it that the president still hasn’t nominated a U.S. ambassador to France? I mean, that post has been vacant since November. I assume he knew long before that that the post was going to become vacant. Why have we not nominated — or why has he not nominated a U.S. ambassador to France?
JAY CARNEY: I’m still being vetted. Scott?
KARL: No, I’m — serious question. I mean, it’s an important post.
CARNEY: When the president has a nomination for that post, we’ll make an announcement.
KARL: And will it be somebody who has donated or bundled or helped raise $500,000 or more for the Obama campaign?
CARNEY: Jon, as you know, being a donor to the president’s campaign does not guarantee you a job in the administration, but it does not prevent you from getting one. And the fact of the matter is, the president has made nominations to ambassadorial posts and other posts from the ranks of the private sector, from government service and has put in place qualified nominees across the board. So I don’t have an answer for you on that particular nomination. When I do, we’ll make it.
KARL: More than half of the political appointees he has made to ambassadorial posts gave more than — or bundled, helped raise more than $500,000 for his re-election campaign. Is that a coincidence?
CARNEY: Look, the president takes an approach where he finds qualified nominees for these posts from a variety of walks of life, and in that, he’s not different from his predecessors. And what I can tell you that –
CARNEY: — being a donor does not get you a job in this administration nor does it preclude you from getting one.
The White House has come under fire in recent weeks after several major campaign donors turned ambassador nominees floundered in their confirmation hearings. Two political appointees, Noah Mamet and George Tsunis, both acknowledged they had never been to the country of their nomination. Tsunis also blew basic facts about Norway and was roundly criticized for his extreme incompetence.