Obama nominates Kevin O’Malley as Ireland ambassador


President Barack Obama shakes hands with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Obama Thursday nominated trial lawyer Kevin O’Malley as U.S. ambassador to Ireland, a post vacant for more than 18 months. And guess what? He’s not a bundler!

O’Malley is a long-time supporter of Obama, going back to 2007 before his first presidential primary run. Perhaps not coincidentally, O’Malley is from St. Louis, Mo., home state of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) who was also an early supporter of Obama.

O’Malley gave the maximum individual contribution of $2,300 to Obama in 2007 and again in 2008, according to FEC filings. It does not appear he gave to Obama in the 2012 cycle. A political appointment, for sure, but not a mega donor.

Irish news outlets first reported the news of the O’Malley pick Wednesday evening. The Irish government had been upset that it was taking the White House so long to fill the spot left open after Ambassador Dan Rooney left the job in fall 2012. More recently, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) made headlines questioning the administration for the lengthy delay. Frustration was mounting.

“Obama insiders say O’Malley is a respected leader in the Irish American and religious community in St. Louis, where he has been a leading supporter of the Catholic Student Center at Washington University in St. Louis,” reported the Irish Central.

The White House made it official Thursday afternoon.

“The biggest issue for the ambassador to Ireland is going to be the economy and helping the country dig out of a fiscal mess,” said Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and former special envoy for Northern Ireland.

In terms of the peace process in Northern Ireland, Haas said, “Vice President Joe Biden and (his national security adviser) Jake Sullivan are the real point people in this administration.”

O’Malley already has a welcome party awaiting him on the other side of the Atlantic. The U.S. ambassador in England tweeted this:

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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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