Many major contributors, as we’ve reported, were asked after the election if “they might want to serve” in the administration. Somewhere overseas, perhaps?
But sometimes embassies are straight-up bought before an election, a Loop Fan reminded us after seeing an item on Obama’s selection of Caroline Kennedy for Japan that referred to President Richard Nixon’s thoughts on ambassadorial appointments.
There was the delightful case of Ruth Farkas, our reader noted, who was Nixon’s ambassador to Luxembourg. Nixon’s attorney, Herbert Kalmbach, testified under oath in 1974 that a senior Nixon aide asked him in 1971 to call Farkas, whose husband owned a clothing store chain.
“She is interested in giving $250,000 for Costa Rica,” Kalmbach said the aide told him, according to an account in the New Republic by our colleague Walter Pincus. (That was a huge amount in those days.)
Kalmbach said that he met with Farkas and that she had said “words to the following effect: She said, ‘Well, you know, I am interested in Europe, I think, and isn’t $250,000 an awful lot of money for Costa Rica?’ ”
Farkas donated $300,000 to the reelection campaign and ended up in Luxembourg. She may have thought she paid too much for that tiny country, but apparently she did a fine job there.
The Obama Cabinet’s Sequester Solidarity Stampede is picking up steam. On Wednesday, President Obama, following the lead of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, said he’s contributing $20,000 — 5 percent of his $400,000 yearly salary — to the Treasury in solidarity with federal workers who are being furloughed because of the sequester.
By Thursday afternoon, several more Cabinet members — including Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano — also had pledged to return or donate a chunk of their pay. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and acting Environmental Protection Agency chief Bob Perciasepe jumped on the bandwagon the same day as the president.
Of course, some folks — such as Obama and Kerry — will hardly feel the loss, because they have millions — unlike the more than 1 million federal workers who will be furloughed in coming weeks.
Many senior agency officials also have begun chipping in. Other less-well-heeled officials may feel obliged, leading to what our colleague Lisa Rein dubbed a problem of “sacrifice creep.” (The top folks may have to proclaim a cutoff at the deputy or undersecretary level.)
We’re just waiting to see who’s going to be the last Cabinet member to sign up.
Logos will go
Seems the Agriculture Department is doing some re-branding — or un-branding. The department is consolidating its multitude of agencies and offices under a single, crisp logo.