President Obama's fifth consecutive week of naming new ambassadors brought with it five people with long histories of donating campaign cash, including two donors who also bundled more than half a million dollars each for the president's campaign war chest. As Capital Eye previously detailed, these choices often include people who contributed significant amounts to his committees — and bundled larger sums his direction.
By our count, Obama, to date, has nominated 50 individuals for ambassadorships. Of these, 19 have been career officers in the Foreign Service, 26 have made given money to political candidates and five are not career diplomats but nor do they have known histories of campaign contributions.
These 26 individuals, along with their immediate family members, have contributed roughly $3 million to federal candidates, committees and parties since 1989, with 92 percent of that going to Democrats — including more than $139,800 to Obama and $43,100 to former Sen. Hillary Clinton, who now heads the State Department.
Sixteen of them are also responsible for bundling at least $5 million to Obama's campaign committee and at least $500,000 to the campaign of Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain. Additionally, according to Public Citizen's records, eight of these bundlers also directed at least $1.78 million toward his inaugural committee.
Included in Obama's latest batch of picks were career diplomats Judith G. Garber (for Latvia), James Knight (for Benin) and Charles A. Ray (for Zimbabwe), as well as the following individuals with histories of political giving:
-- Bruce J. Oreck, for ambassador to Finland. Oreck, a lawyer who previously served as general counsel and vice president of his family's famous vacuum company, bundled more than $500,000 to Obama's presidential campaign. He and his wife, Charlotte, also bundled another $75,000 Obama's inauguration. (Existing disclosure requirements for inauguration bundlers don't make it clear whether that includes his personal contribution of $50,000.) Along with his wife and children, he has contributed $261,550 to federal Democratic candidates, parties and committees since 1989. That includes $9,200 to Obama and $1,000 to Hillary Clinton last cycle.
-- William C. Eacho III, for Austria. Chief executive officer of the financial services and real estate firm the Carlton Capital Group, Eacho also bundled at least $500,000 to Obama's presidential campaign and another $100,000 for his inauguration. Along with his wife, Donna, he has contributed more than $228,900 to federal candidates, committees and parties since 1989, with 83 percent going to Democrats. These contributions include $2,300 to Clinton and $9,200 to Obama during their presidential runs last cycle.
-- David H. Thorne, for Italy and San Marino. An investor and entrepreneur, Thorne has contributed $29,500 to federal candidates, committees and parties since 1989, along with his wife, Rose. Of this amount, at least 83 percent has gone to Democrats, including $3,300 to Obama during the 2008 presidential election.
-- Karen F. Kornbluh, for ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Currently a fellow at the Center for American Progress, Kornbluh also worked the policy director in Obama's U.S. Senate office. Along with her husband, James J. Halpert, she has contributed $22,050 to federal candidates, parties and committees since 1989. Eighty-four percent of that sum has gone to Democrats, although none has gone to either Obama or Clinton.
-- David T. Killion, for permanent representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which has the rank of ambassador. A senior staffer on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Killion has personally contributed $3,050 to federal Democratic candidates, parties and committees since 2000. This includes $500 to 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, as well as $1,000 to Obama and $1,300 to Clinton during the 2008 election cycle.
Read more at OpposingViews.com: Obama Ambassador Nominees Big Campaign Contributors