Obama bundlers find a shrinking job market

November 27, 2013
 Montreal’s centuries-old Notre Dame Basilica illuminated at night. (AP Photo/Caryn Rousseau)
Montreal’s centuries-old Notre Dame Basilica illuminated at night. (Caryn Rousseau/AP)

Recent news has it that  the Embassy in Paris is going to one of the three Janes — Jane Hartley, a top bundler and head the Observatory Group — and that Dublin is going to one of the Missouri Carnahans — in this case, Tom, brother of former Missouri representative Russ Carnahan (D).

There are still some fine spots — such as  Costa Rica, the Bahamas and Switzerland — without official nominees, but most likely there are candidates penciled in for the jobs.

This is troublesome, especially for Obama mega-bundlers — and there were so many — looking for their due. After all,  it’s hard to create new countries. But maybe jobs previously filled by non-bundlers can go to worthy contributors?

For example, one of those nominees left on the floor when the Senate recessed was  Los Angeles lawyer Michael A. Lawson, a major Democratic contributor and Obama  mega-bundler (up to $500,00o in both 2008 and 2012 according to the Center for Responsive Politics) who was in line to be the U.S. representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), headquartered in Montreal.

Traditionally, the job (cold up there but comes with an apartment)  has been given to someone skilled in aviation safety and security matters, said Kenneth Quinn, a former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  chief counsel and now general counsel of the Flight Safety Foundation. “It’s never been considered an outpost for financial  contributors.”

President Bill Clinton’s envoys to ICAO, a U.N. organization that deals with air safety and security, were Carol J. Carmody, a former FAA official and vice chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, and Edward Stimpson, the longest-serving head of  the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (and later head of the Flight Safety Foundation).

Bush II’s picks were Donald Bliss, a career aviation lawyer and former general counsel to Transportation Secretary William Coleman. Obama’s first rep, Duane Woerth, is an international pilot who headed the Air Line Pilots Association.

Lawson  is the former head of  law firm Skadden Arps’ executive compensation and employee benefits group in the Los Angeles office,  according to a 2008 firm directory.

It should be noted, however, that he is,  in fact, well-versed in some aviation issues, having been, the White House noted, the immediate past president of the Los Angeles World Airports’ Board of Airport Commissioners and has been on the board since 2005.

And raising all that money shouldn’t be held against him.

Correction: A previous version of this post misidentified the last name of Kenneth Quinn. This version has been corrected.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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Emily Heil · November 26, 2013