Two of President Barack Obama’s top fundraisers will face confirmation votes in the U.S. Senate after being nominated for ambassadorships that they are far from qualified for.
Noah Bryson Mamet and Colleen Bell together raised more than $1 million to help elect and reelect Obama to the White House. Mamet in turn was nominated to be the ambassador to Argentina, while Bell was nominated to be the ambassador to Hungary.
Nominating political allies for ambassadorships is standard practice for Obama.
Since 2009, Obama has nominated 133 of his political allies for ambassador positions, according to the American Foreign Service Association. In his second term, the AFSA notes that an even higher percentage of his nominations have been for political reasons, with more than 40 percent going to his political allies so far.
Though many of Obama’s nominees have lacked the qualifications to properly serve as ambassadors, Mamet and Bell seem to be two of his worst choices.
Mamet, who was chosen for Argentina, has never even been to the country. Asked by Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) during his confirmation hearing whether he had ever been to Argentina, Mamet responded that he has "traveled pretty extensively around the world" but hasn’t "had a chance" to got to Argentina. The State Department doesn’t even know whether he speaks Spanish.
Bell did not do much better when she was put on the spot during her confirmation hearing on the United States’ strategic interests in Hungary. She failed to name a single one.
Bell’s failure to eloquently speak on the issue should not be a surprise, as the highlight of her résumé is that she was the producer for soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. Her sole foreign policy experience is that she sat on the global leadership council of environmentalist Natural Resources Defense Council.
Obama’s practice of rewarding his donors with ambassadorships has proven disastrous.
Nicole Avant, the bundler he sent to be ambassador to the Bahamas, was forced to resign after the State Department found that her embassy was "dysfunctional." She took 102 "personal days" and 77 "work travel" days in her two years at the post.
Howard Gutman, the bundler he sent to be ambassador to Belgium, had to leave his post after it was revealed by an inspector general report that he was ditching his security detail to solicit prostitutes. He raised nearly a million dollars for Obama, and was replaced by Denise Bauer, who raised more than $500,000 for Obama as well.
The Senate will move to invoke cloture on Mamet and Bell on Monday afternoon. If successful, both would likely be confirmed on Tuesday.