Income Inequality: Obama Rewards More Donors With Posh Ambassador Posts

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President Barack Obama demonstrated his commitment to ending income inequality in America this week by asking the Senate to lavish five major Democratic donors with cherry ambassadorships in conflict-free countries like Iceland, New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Obama sent his picks to the Senate on Monday for confirmation, even though the nominees knew before Congress went on its Christmas break that they were in line for the posts. Here’s the rundown, courtesy of the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation government watchdog blog:

  • Rob Barber, a Massachusetts attorney nominated to represent the United States in Iceland, has donated more than $80,000 to Democratic campaigns, according to records compiled on Influence Explorer from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in Politics. Political Party Time shows that Barber helped host a fundraiser last year for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

 

  • Colleen Bell, a Hollywood soap opera producer whom Obama has tapped to be ambassador to Hungary, has donated more than $293,000. Her husband, fellow “The Bold and the Beautiful” producer Bradley Bell, was an especially enthusiastic funder of the Obama campaign. The couple also hosted a star-studded fundraiser for the president at their home during the last campaign, PT records reveal.

 

  • Timothy Broas, nominated to serve as ambassador to the Netherlands, has donated more than $183,000 to Democrats in addition to showing up in Party Time as a fundraising host.  As USA TODAY has reported, Obama is giving Broas a second chance at a job the DC “super lawyer” opted out of in 2012 after a drunk driving arrest.

 

  • Dwight Bush, a DC investment banker who hopes to take over the embassy in Morocco, has, together with his son, Dwight Bush Jr., made more than $140,000 in campaign contributions. With a few strategic exceptions that money went almost entirely to Democrats.

 

  • Mark Gilbert, a former baseball player turned investment banker, has donated nearly $436,000 to Democratic candidates and causes. Perhaps endearing him still further to Obama, Gilbert used to play outfield for the president’s beloved White Sox. That makes him a rarity among members of the First Fan’s favorite team, most of whom prefer Republicans. [Note: Gilbert is in line for an ambassadorship to New Zealand.]

The secular version of American simony isn’t unique to the Obama Administration. As we reported in July of last year – just after Obama had outraged our European allies by cashing in political favors with another of his ambassadorial nominations – the practice has a long and corrupt history regardless of who the President has been. But wouldn’t the President of Hope and Change, who’s set to take on the wealth gap and renew his partisan focus on equal opportunity for all Americans – carve out a little more credibility for his legacy by being the first to buck that trend?

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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