The Washington Post

Obama bundler jokes about political appointment

President Obama speaks to a crowd gathered for a town hall meeting Thursday at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis.  (Craig Lassig/EPA)

Mega-campaign donors know one potential perk that comes out of bundling thousands of dollars for a presidential candidate is if that candidate makes it to the White House, they could be offered a plum overseas job hosting dinner parties (and spreading diplomacy).

But they don’t always joke about it so openly.

Enter Sam Kaplan, a wealthy Minnesota lawyer, who was a top bundler for Barack Obama in 2008 and was rewarded in kind with a temporary new life in Morocco. On Thursday night, having left the ambassador job a year ago, Kaplan welcomed Obama back to his home for a private fundraiser.

It had been seven years since he’d hosted a first fundraiser for Obama in his Minneapolis house. That early support, he said, introducing the president to the crowd, “allowed you to be president. It allowed you to name ambassadors to Morocco.”

Obama acknowledged that Kaplan and others in the state “actually really did have a lot to do with my deciding to run,” because of their early faith in him. He did not, however, take the bait on the political appointee joke.

It’s kind of a sensitive subject right now, with both the White House and congressional Republicans blaming the other for the length of time it takes to get ambassadors confirmed.

On a related subject, a crop of 32 House members sent a bipartisan letter to Obama last week asking that he withdraw his pick for Ambassador to Norway, Chartwell Hotels founder George Tsunis. They write he threatens “an important international bond if confirmed.”

Tsunis, as is well documented, had an embarrassing performance during his Senate confirmation hearing showing he knew very little about the country’s politics. Even some Senate Democrats have called on Obama to make a different choice.

It’s nice that the House members are getting involved, but just a reminder, they have no say in the confirmation process.

Norway Ambassador Letter to the President


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Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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