BY: Follow @LizWFB
A group of wealthy elites who bundled millions for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns are having their lives “upended” because their ambassadorships at plum posts will end when Obama leaves office.
The New York Times reported that President-elect Donald Trump’s transition staff has informed the State Department that politically appointed ambassadors must leave by Inauguration Day.
The Times called it a “break with precedent” to remove political ambassadors, many of whom received their posts by fundraising for Barack Obama, on schedule by Jan. 20.
The new administration is “declining to provide even the briefest of grace periods,” the Times wrote, referencing several political appointees who now must move from their mansion residences into apartments in Prague and Costa Rica.
“The directive has nonetheless upended the personal lives of many ambassadors, who are scrambling to secure living arrangements and acquire visas allowing them to remain in their countries so their children can remain in school,” diplomats told the Times.
Ambassador Stafford Fitzgerald Haney, who bundled nearly $200,000 for Obama and personally donated over $130,000 to Democrats, is now house hunting in Costa Rica as he “struggles to figure out how to avoid a move back to the United States with five months left in the school year.”
Before taking his ambassador post, Haney was the principal and director of Business Development and Client Service at Pzena Investment Management, a global investment firm that specializes in serving “high net worth individuals.”
Haney was one of the many bundlers nominated by Obama in 2014 for ambassadorships. His new job was located in “beautiful Costa Rica, land of wonderful beaches, volcanoes, tropical forests, zip-lining, exotic fauna and flora, lovely people, and no army,” the Washington Post observed at the time.
The Post called Haney a “mini-bundler” compared to Obama’s other appointments, as he only raised $35,800 during the 2012 campaign, and “just under a piddling $200,000 since 2007.”
However, Haney and his wife have donated more than $250,000 to Democrats personally over the past decade.
Haney has donated $139,481 to Democrats and super PACs supporting Obama, including $30,000 to the Committee for Change, the “vehicle for ultra-rich Democratic donors” that supported Obama field operations in 2008.
His wife Andrea has personally contributed $130,252 to Democrats, the DNC, and Democratic super PACs since 2008.
Andrew H. Schapiro, a Chicago lawyer and friend of Obama since they attended Harvard together, also must leave his “lovely assignment” in the Czech Republic.
“Schapiro is seeking housing in Prague as well as lobbying his children’s Chicago-based school to break with policy and accept them back midyear,” the Times wrote.
Schapiro bundled $424,450 for Obama during the 2012 campaign, for a total of $1,260,891 since 2007. Aside from raising millions for his college friend, Schapiro has donated $148,860 personally to Democrats since 2000.
Chicago magazine called Schapiro’s appointment to the Czech Republic a “plum diplomatic post.”
“It’s a lovely assignment,” the magazine wrote. “The ambassador’s 72-room Beaux-Arts residence, built in the late 1920s by a Jewish businessman and once home to the late Shirley Temple Black, ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the 1989 Velvet Revolution, sits on six acres, and comes complete with a uniformed staff.”
Denise Bauer, who has bundled more than $4 million for Obama, also is struggling to find a way to stay in Belgium where she is ambassador so her daughter can graduate high school there, according to the Times.
Bauer, a CBS producer in Los Angeles in the 1990s, is listed as a “homemaker” in her bundling disclosures. She raised $2,360,300 for Obama’s 2012 election, and $4,367,187 overall since 2007.
Bauer has personally given Democrats $21,675 since 2007, including $9,310 to Obama’s presidential campaigns.
Aside from raising millions for Obama, Bauer served on the Democratic National Committee between 2008 and 2012 and as a finance chair and on a finance committee for Obama’s campaigns.
The final political ambassador referenced by the Times was Pamela Hamamoto, “Barry” Obama’s childhood friend from Hawaii who lives in Geneva, Switzerland as the Permanent Representative of the U.S. to the United Nations.
Hamamoto has bundled $1,885,054 for Obama since 2007. Her brother, David Hamamoto, has raised $143,200.
Hamamoto s trying to stay in Geneva for her daughter’s high school graduation, according to the Times.
Hamamoto was an investment banker for Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. Her husband, Kurt Kaull, has worked at high-profile investment firms with over $1 billion in assets.
The Times article quoted Derek Shearer criticizing Trump for making Obama’s political appointees leave once Obama is no longer president.
“It feels like there’s an element just of spite and payback in it,” Shearer said. “I don’t see a higher policy motive.”
Shearer is a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton who was given the ambassadorship to Finland in exchange for a “political debt” that was “owed” in the 1990s.