Posted on July 1, 2011

Barack Obama Campaign Donors ‘Rewarded with Government Jobs’

Sarah McHaney, Telegraph (London), June 16, 2011

The appointments have taken place despite Mr Obama’s campaign promises that he would break with long-established practice and hire people based on their qualifications and experience rather than making patronage appointments.

In an executive order issued by Mr Obama as he took office, it was stated that appointees should sign forms saying that they were not hired because of political affiliations or contributions. Mr Obama required “that government hiring be based upon qualifications, competence and experience, not political connections”.

But a Study for the Centre for Public Integrity has found that 27 out of the 36 people who “bundled” donations of more than $500,000 (£307,000) received jobs such as ambassadorships or economic advisory roles. About fifty per cent of bundlers who raised more than $200,000 (£123,000) got jobs.

Louis Susman, a Chicago investment banker with no diplomatic background but who raised $300,000 (£184,500) for the Obama campaign, was appointed American ambassador to London in July 2009.

At the time Robert Gibbs, then White House press secretary, made light of the appointment by saying Susman was qualified for the post “because he speaks English”.

Donald Gips, a Colorado businessman, was appointed ambassador to South Africa in mid- 2009 after raising $500,000 (£307,600) for Obama. Steven Westlym, a green energy entrepreneur also raised $500,000 for Obama and has since seen four companies within his business interest receive more than $500 million (£308 million) in loans, grants, or stimulus money from the Energy Department.

Julius Genachowski, a law school friend of Mr Obama, was appointed Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He raised $500,000 (£307,600) for the Obama campaign and he and his wife have visited the White House more than 100 times since the appointment according to White House logs.

Charles Rivkin, an entertainment company president, raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s campaign, and became ambassador to France.

Cynthia Stroum, a wealth Seattle businesswoman and large campaigner for Obama who was appointed to be ambassador to Luxembourg resigned in February 2011 after a State Department report accused her of a “confrontational management style” that led to an “extremely difficult, unhappy, and uncertain work environment”, allegations she denied.