Obama rewards fundraisers with ambassadorships

President Obama named some of the major financial backers of his 2012 reelection campaign to top European ambassadorships on Friday, ahead of his trip to Northern Ireland for next week's G8 summit. 

The White House said that Obama had named John Emerson as the next ambassador to Germany. According to the president's campaign, Emerson raised at least half a million dollars last year for the president's reelection effort, topping the between $100,000 and $200,000 he netted for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

Obama has also nominated Rufus Gifford, a former finance director for the Democratic National Committee and finance director of his reelection campaign, as the next ambassador to Denmark. Gifford also served as a major fundraiser for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign and the chairman of the president's inaugural committee.

ADVERTISEMENT
Gifford joins the relatively small ranks of openly gay men to be appointed a U.S. ambassador. The president also appointed James Costos, an openly gay executive at HBO, as the next American representative to Spain. Costos gave $67,000 to support the president and Democratic National Committee during last year's race, according to the Federal Election Commission.

“We congratulate Rufus Gifford and James Costos, whose nominations reflect the president’s strong commitment to eliminating barriers to public service for LGBT Americans. I’m confident they will both represent the United States with distinction,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute, in a statement.

The president also tabbed Ken Hackett, the president of Catholic Relief Services, as the next ambassador to the Vatican.

And Obama named two career State Department officials to ambassadorships: Liliana Ayalde as the head of the embassy in Brazil, and Patricia Haslach as ambassador to Ethiopia.

“It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to join this Administration to serve the American people," the president said in a statement. "I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

The nominations will require Senate confirmation.

More in News

Rep. Israel: I’m leaving Congress because of fundraising

Read more »