The practice of United States presidents appointing top campaign fundraisers to diplomatic posts is far from new, but according to report from The Guardian, President Barack Obama has propagated it so much, the average amount raised by recent or imminent appointees is $1.8 million.
Obama’s 2012 campaign finance chairman, Matthew Barzun, was appointed to a rather cushy diplomatic position in London Tuesday. According to records from The New York Times, Barzun helped raise a total of $700 million for Obama’s campaign, $2.3 million of which was raised by him personally. The Guardian claims that top United States diplomatic officials are rather concerned about the proliferation of fundraisers in diplomatic roles.
“State Department veterans are increasingly concerned about the size of donations raised by political supporters who go on to take up top foreign postings,” wrote The Guardian. “Thomas Pickering, who recently led the investigation into lethal attacks on the US embassy in Libya and represented the US at the United Nations, claimed the practice had become nothing more than ‘simony’ – the selling of public office.”
Pickering told The Guardian, "To some extent, this question of having the ear of the president, and who has it, shows the seriousness of the issue. It has the effect of diminishing perhaps the sense that the US is treating these countries with the respect they deserve."
Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), which represents career US diplomats, told The Guardian, "The giving of ambassadorships to people who have raised a lot of money for the campaign has increased and that's a concern to us in particular. There was some thought that with Obama being such a 'change agent' that he might really do things differently – but it has just been a bigger let down."