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Obama's Bundle Of Trouble

- December 1, 2014

Two Of Obama's "Most Controversial" Bundler-Ambassador Nominees Prepare To Face The U.S. Senate

Today, Congress Will Vote On Noah Mamet And Colleen Bell, "Two Of President Barack Obama's Most Controversial Ambassador Nominees - Big-Time Donors Seemingly Picked Only To Reward Them For Scooping Up Campaign Cash." "The debate in Washington shifts from undocumented immigrants to questionably credentialed emigrants Dec. 1 as the Senate votes on two of President Barack Obama's most controversial ambassador nominees - big-time donors seemingly picked only to reward them for scooping up campaign cash. Noah Bryson Mamet and Colleen Bell each raised at least $500,000 for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign." (Olivier Knox, "Obama Bundlers Noah Bryson Mamet, Colleen Bell Finally Get Their Day," Yahoo News, 11/21/14)

  • Both Mamet And Bell "Ran Into Trouble Early In The Senate Confirmation Process." "But each of them ran into trouble early in the Senate confirmation process." (Olivier Knox, "Obama Bundlers Noah Bryson Mamet, Colleen Bell Finally Get Their Day," Yahoo News, 11/21/14)

After Each Raised Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars For Obama's Reelection Campaign, "The President Then Nominated Mamet To Be Ambassador To Argentina And Bell To Be Ambassador To Hungary." "Noah Bryson Mamet and Colleen Bell each raised at least $500,000 for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. The president then nominated Mamet to be ambassador to Argentina and Bell to be ambassador to Hungary." (Olivier Knox, "Obama Bundlers Noah Bryson Mamet, Colleen Bell Finally Get Their Day," Yahoo News, 11/21/14)

Mamet And Bell Are Part Of A Growing Share Of Obama Ambassadorial Appointments Going To Political Friends

Since 2009, 35.2 Percent Of Obama's Ambassadorial Nominations Have Gone To Political Appointees. (American Foreign Service Association Website, Accessed 11/29/14)

THE DUO RAN INTO TROUBLE DURING CONFIRMATION HEARINGS, LEAVING MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR QUALIFICATIONS

The Confirmation Process For Mamet And Bell Revealed Deficiencies In The Obama Nominees' Knowledge Of The Countries Where They Intend To Serve. "It's been the confirmation process has revealed deficiencies in their knowledge of the countries where they intend to serve a tough few weeks for President Obama's ambassadorial nominees. For three prominent campaign fundraisers and one former U.S. senator nominated to diplomatic posts. Here are the roughest moments faced by Obama's nominees (so far)." (Matt Delong, "A Fix Guide On How Not To Pick An Ambassador," The Washington Post, 2/11/14)

  • "This Is The Risk Obama Takes In Rewarding Political Friends With Jobs For Which They Are Ill-Prepared." (Editorial, "Some Of Obama's Ambassador Picks Are No Shirley Temples," Los Angeles Times , 2/13/14)
  • "President Obama's A-List Campaign Fundraisers Are Turning Out To Be B-List Ambassador Nominees." (Abby D. Phillip, "5 Most Cringe-Worthy Blunders From Obama's Ambassador Nominees," ABC News, 2/7/14)

Los Angeles Times Editorial: Obama Should "Wonder Exactly How Effective Of A Representative" His Nominees Will Be. "It does no good to pillory Bell for her inability to think on her feet, nor Tsunis for his ignorance - though his failure to absorb rudimentary details about his posting country should make the White House wonder exactly how effective a representative he will be." (Editorial, "Some Of Obama's Ambassador Picks Are No Shirley Temples," Los Angeles Times , 2/13/14)

  • "The Question Is, How Much Confidence Should The American People Have In Obama's Judgment In Ambassadors?" (Editorial, "Some Of Obama's Ambassador Picks Are No Shirley Temples," Los Angeles Times , 2/13/14)

Noah Mamet, An Obama Bundler Who Raised $500,000, Had Never Been To The Country For Which He Was Nominated

In 2012, Noah Mamet Bundled $500,000 For Obama. "Mamet, for example, is listed by OpenSecrets.org as a 'bundler.' That means that he collected campaign contributions for Obama. Mamet bundled $500,000 for the president in 2012." (Eyder Peralta, "Ambassador To Argentina Nominee Has Never Been To The Country," NPR, 2/7/14)

At His Confirmation Hearing, Mamet Revealed He "Has Never Set Foot" In Argentina, Where He Was Nominated To Represent The United States. "Noah Mamet, Obama's choice for ambassador to Argentina, it turns out, has never set foot in the country. 'I haven't had the opportunity yet to be there,' Mamet revealed when he appeared Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 'I've traveled pretty extensively around the world, but I haven't yet had a chance.'" (Mary Bruce And Jonathan Karl, "What Does It Cost To Be An Obama Ambassador," ABC News, 2/7/14)

  • When Asked Whether He Had Been To Argentina, Mamet Replied, "I Haven't Had The Opportunity To Be There." SEN. MARCO RUBIO: "Yeah, I just want to take off on that point and say that you stated it accurately, Mr. Chairman. And here's what I would add. Mr. Mamet, have you been to Argentina?" MAMET: "Senator, I haven't had the opportunity yet to be there. I've traveled pretty extensively around the world, but I haven't yet had a chance." (Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Nomination Hearing, 2/6/14)

The Day After His Hearing, The State Department Was Not Even Sure Whether Mamet Spoke Spanish. QUESTION: "Do you know if - we learned that Noah Mamet, the nominee to be ambassador to Argentina, has never even set foot in the country of Argentina. Do you know if he speaks Spanish?" PSAKI: "I don't have his personal biography in front of me, but what I will convey is that I think, as I said before, judging somebody's effectiveness or what role they'll play or how strong of an ambassador they'll be you can't do until they've spent some time working in the job in the country." (Jen Psaki, State Department Daily Press Briefing, Washington, D.C., 2/7/14)

Colleen Bell, Obama's Nominee To Hungary, Struggled To Name American Strategic Interests In The Country

"Colleen Bell, Obama's Pick To Head The U.S. Embassy In Hungary, Raised More Than $500,000 For Obama's 2012 Campaign." "Colleen Bell, Obama's pick to head the U.S. Embassy in Hungary, raised more than $500,000 for Obama's 2012 campaign and gave more than $10,000 to Senate Democrats in 2013, including $2,600 to Warner and $2,500 to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)." (Alexander Bolton, "Plum Jobs Eluding Big Dem Donors," The Hill, 7/22/14)

During Her Confirmation Hearing, "Soap Opera Producer Colleen Bell, Tapped To Go To Hungary, Could Not List Any Of America's Strategic Interests There." "Earlier this year, three of Obama's 'ambassadonor' picks raised eyebrows in their confirmation hearing testimony. Real estate investor George Tsunis, nominated to be envoy to Norway, did not seem to know what kind of government that country has and attempted to bluff his way through questions about anti-immigration sentiment there. Soap opera producer Colleen Bell, tapped to go to Hungary, could not list any of America's strategic interests there. Consultant Noah Bryson Mamet admitted he had never been to Argentina." (Olivier Knox, "These Are The 'Essential Skills' Needed To Be An Obama Ambassadonor," Yahoo News , 5/8/14)

  • "Bell Stumbled Stammered Her Way Through Answering The Question, 'What Are Our Strategic Interests In Hungary?" "But each of them ran into trouble early in the Senate confirmation process. Mamet admitted that he had never been to Argentina, while Bell stumbled and stammered her way through answering the question, 'What are our strategic interests in Hungary?'" (Olivier Knox, "Obama Bundlers Noah Bryson Mamet, Colleen Bell Finally Get Their Day," Yahoo News, 11/21/14)

In Addition, Bell's "Only Seemingly Relevant Entry" Under Foreign Policy Experience Was A Membership In The Los Angeles Leadership Council And Global Leadership Council Of The Natural Resources Defense Council. "Her arts resume is truly impressive. But a 'wealth of experience' in 'foreign policy'? The only seemingly relevant entry is her membership in the 'Los Angeles Leadership Council and Global Leadership Council of the Natural Resources Defense Council' since 2004." (Olivier Knox, "These Are The 'Essential Skills' Needed To Be An Obama Ambassadonor," Yahoo News! , 5/8/14)

YOU WOULD THINK OBAMA WOULD HAVE LEARNED HIS LESSON AFTER HIS PAST BUNDLER-AMBASSADORS HAVE struggled IN THEIR POSTS

Cynthia Stroum, Obama's Former Ambassador To Luxembourg , Resigned After Underperforming

In 2009, Cynthia Stroum Was Sent To Luxembourg After Raising Half A Million Dollars For Obama. "And then there's the recent case of Cynthia Stroum, Obama's pick to serve in Luxembourg-a Rhode Island-sized NATO ally that has always been a convenient spot to stick political friends and donors. Over the years, real estate moguls, socialites and car salesmen have all washed up in the Ardennes. Stroum, a wealthy Seattle investor, was dispatched there in 2009 after raising half a million bucks to put Obama in the White House (or, $1 for every citizen of Luxembourg)." (James Bruno," "Why Does America Send So Many Stupid, Unqualified Hacks Overseas?" Politico, 2/7/14)

  • She Resigned In 2011 After The State Department Found Her Embassy "Has Underperformed For The Entirety Of The Current Ambassador's Tenure." " She abruptly resigned in early 2011 after a blistering report from the State Department's inspector general noted that her embassy 'has underperformed for the entirety of the current ambassador's tenure.'" (James Bruno," "Why Does America Send So Many Stupid, Unqualified Hacks Overseas?" Politico, 2/7/14)

Stroum Raised At Least $200,000 For Obama's 2012 Campaign And At Least $500,000 For Obama's 2008 Campaign. (Center For Responsive Politics, Accessed 11/24/14)

Nicole Avant, Obama's Former Ambassador To The Bahamas, Spent An Inordinate Amount Of Time Off The Job

In 2012, A State Department Inspector General's Report Found That Nicole Avant, The Former Ambassador To The Bahamas, Brought "Dysfunctional Leadership And Management" To The Embassy Since Her Appointment. "According to a new State Department inspector general's report on the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas, Ambassador Nicole Avant presided over 'an extended period of dysfunctional leadership and mismanagement, which has caused problems throughout the embassy' since she was appointed by the president in 2009." (Josh Rogin, "Another Obama Fundraiser Turns Out To Be A Bad Ambassador,"Foreign Policy , 2/23/12)

  • Avant Was "Away From The Embassy An Inordinate Amount Of Time… And When She Was In Town, She Worked From Her Residence Most Of The Day." "But according to the State Department's internal investigation, Avant was away from the embassy an inordinate amount of time - mainly shuttling back and forth to her home in Los Angeles - and when she was in town, she worked from her residence most of the day." (Josh Rogin, "Another Obama Fundraiser Turns Out To Be A Bad Ambassador,"Foreign Policy , 2/23/12)

Avant Spent 40 Percent Of Her Time As Ambassador To The Bahamas Out Of The Country. "The inspector general wrote that her tenure was part of 'an extended period of dysfunctional leadership and mismanagement, which has caused problems throughout the embassy.' The report said Avant spent roughly 40 percent of her time out of the country over a two-year period." (T.W. Farnum, "The Influence Industry: Obama Gives Administration Jobs To Some Big Fundraisers," The Washington Post , 3/7/12)

  • Avant Was Absent From The Embassy 276 Days Between September 2009 And November 2011, Including 102 "Personal" Days . "Avant was absent from the embassy 276 days between September 2009 and November 2011, including 102 'personal' days and 77 'work travel' days to the United States, of which only 23 were on official orders." (Josh Rogin, "Another Obama Fundraiser Turns Out To Be A Bad Ambassador,"Foreign Policy , 2/23/12)

In 2012, Nicole Avant And Husband Ted Sarandos Raised At Least $500,000 For Obama. (Center For Responsive Politics, Accessed 11/24/14)

  • In 2008, Avant Was One Of Four Of Los Angeles Bundlers Who Raised More Than $500,000 For Obama. "In 2008, Avant was one of only four Los Angeles bundlers to raise more than $500,000 for Obama (the others were Katzenberg; David Geffen, who appears to be sitting out this presidential cycle; and Charles Rivkin, the former CEO of Wildbrain Entertainment who is now ambassador to France)." (Tina Daunt, "Obama's $500,000 Power Couple," The Hollywood Reporter, 4/25/12)

Howard Gutman, Obama's Former Ambassador To Belgium, Was Replaced After An Inspector General Memo Revealed Inappropriate Behavior

Then-Ambassador To Belgium, Howard Gutman, Was Allegedly The Subject Of A 2011 Investigation For "Ditching His Security Detail" To Solicit Prostitutes. "A top donor to President Obama's 2008 campaign was investigated for allegedly having sex with prostitutes but remains at his post as the U.S. ambassador to Belgium. Howard Gutman was investigated in 2011 for allegedly ditching his security detail in order to have sex with prostitutes, according to an internal inspector general memo obtained by the New York Post. The memo, which alleges political interference by State Department higher-ups in at least eight Diplomatic Security Service probes, was first reported by CBS on Monday, but Gutman's name was not disclosed at the time." (Julian Pecquet, "IG Memo: US Ambassador To Belgium Ditched Security Detail To Visit Prostitutes," The Hill, 6/11/13)

  • Shortly After The Investigation Was Revealed, Obama Replaced Gutman With Another Bundler As Ambassador To Belgium. "Denise Bauer - who served as the finance chair for Women for Obama during the president's 2012 campaign - has been chosen to be the new ambassador to Belgium, the White House announced in a press release Friday afternoon. Bauer, who has also served on the Democratic National Committee, raised at least $500,000 for Obama's re-election efforts, according to information voluntarily released by the campaign. … If confirmed by the Senate, Bauer will replace current U.S. Ambassador Howard Gutman, who was also a major campaign bundler. He raised at least $775,000 for Obama's 2008 campaign and first inauguration." (Michael Beckel, "More Bundlers Picked For Plush Ambassador Posts," Center For Public Integrity, 6/21/13)

Howard Gutman Bundled At Least $775,000 For Obama's 2008 Campaign And Inaugural Committee. (Michael Beckel, "Two Dozen Bankrollers-Turned-Ambassadors Bundled At Least $10 Million For Barack Obama," Center For Responsive Politics, 11/18/09)

An Inspector General Investigation Into Gutman's Case Revealed Interference By Hillary Clinton's State Department

The State Department Inspector General Found That "Senior State Department Officials Declared An Allegation That The U.S. Ambassador To Belgium Had Solicited A Prostitute In A Public Park As A 'Management Issue.'" "In the highest-level case, the department's inspector general found that senior State Department officials declared an allegation that the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium had solicited a prostitute in a public park as a 'management issue.'" (Zeke J. Miller, "Clinton Aides Faulted For Strong-Arming State Investigations," Time, 10/17/14)

  • "The Move Effectively Halted An Investigation By The Department's Bureau Of Diplomatic Security ." (Zeke J. Miller, "Clinton Aides Faulted For Strong-Arming State Investigations," Time, 10/17/14)
  • "Department Officials Offered Different Justifications For Handling The Matter As A 'Management Issue,' And They Did Not Create Or Retain Any Record To Justify Their Handling Of It In That Manner." (Office Of Inspector General, Review Of Selected Internal Investigations Conducted By The Bureau Of Diplomatic Security (Esp-14-01) , 9/30/14, p. 2)

The Ambassador Was Recalled To Washington To Meet With Clinton Aide Cheryl Mills And Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy, But After Denying The Allegations, Was Returned To His Post. "The ambassador, Howard Gutman, was recalled to Washington from Belgium to meet with Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy and Clinton Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, according to the report." (Zeke J. Miller, "Clinton Aides Faulted For Strong-Arming State Investigations," Time, 10/17/14)


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