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Tags: ambassadors | bundlers | Colleen Bell | Noah Mamet

Senate Dems Rush to Approve 2 'Bundlers' as Ambassadors

Tuesday, 02 December 2014 12:32 PM EST

Two controversial ambassador nominees were expected to be approved by the Senate on Tuesday, as Democrats rushed to speed up the confirmation process to clear Congress during the lame-duck session, The Washington Examiner reported.

Employing new rules to circumvent procedural holdups by the GOP, the Senate voted Monday night to cut short the debate and proceed to a final vote on Colleen Bell and Noah Mamet, two of President Barack Obama’s top "campaign bundlers," The Examiner said.

Bell, the soap-opera producer who created “The Bold and the Beautiful,” is nominated to become the ambassador to Hungary while Mamet, a veteran Democratic operative, will head the embassy in Argentina.

Bell and Mamet, who have no experience as diplomats, each raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s 2012 campaign, according to the newspaper.

Their nominations have come under fire from Republicans, who may decide to overturn the new rules blocking procedural votes when the GOP takes control of the Senate in January.

The American Foreign Service Association has also attacked Obama’s picks, partially because during his second term Obama has strayed from the usual ratio of 30-70 percent of donors to career diplomats in ambassador nominees, the newspaper said.

But the association, which represents career diplomats, has eased back on the criticism after a string of new ambassadorial positions, filled by career diplomats, were being pushed through by outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid before the Christmas break.

However, 15 former AFSA presidents sent a letter to leading senators on Capitol Hill, urging them to turn down Bell and Mamet’s confirmations, the Examiner reported.

“The fact that they appear to have been chosen on the basis of their service in raising money for electoral campaigns, with minimal demonstrated qualifications for their posts, has subjected them to widespread public ridicule, not only in the U.S. but also abroad,” they wrote.

The Republican National Committee has also blasted Obama’s appointments though its website “Obama’s Bundle of Trouble,” which accuses the president of picking ambassadors solely as a reward for their ability to raise donor cash.

The longtime controversy over naming ambassadors who have been major campaign supporters came to a head during the confirmation hearings for Bell and Mamet, when they were unable to answer simple political questions.

Bell could not name specific U.S. strategic interests in Hungary, even though the European country shares a border with Ukraine. Mamet angered Republicans by admitting that he had never been to Argentina, where he was about to serve.

Obama’s pick for Norway, hotel magnate George Tsunis, shot himself in the foot when he praised the country's president even though Norway has a constitutional monarchy and prime minister, and it appears that Obama has given up on his choice getting approved, the newspaper noted.

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Two controversial ambassador nominees — Colleen Bell and Noah Mamet — were expected to be approved by the Senate on Tuesday despite a total lack of diplomatic qualifications, The Washington Examiner reported.
ambassadors, bundlers, Colleen Bell, Noah Mamet
Tuesday, 02 December 2014 12:32 PM
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