President Barack Obama has nominated attorney Andrew Schapiro, one of his former Harvard Law School classmates and a prolific fundraiser for the president, to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic.
The White House’s announcement Thursday night follows repeated admonishments of Obama for nominating several people with Democratic fundraising pedigrees but little experience with, or knowledge of, the countries where they may soon represent U.S. interests.
Afterward, the Washington Post rebuked Obama for using the elite diplomatic jobs as “political plums.” And the American Foreign Service Association, the main trade group and labor union for career foreign service officers, issued new guidance on the characteristics and skills a good ambassador should possess.
For generations, U.S. presidents have rewarded loyalists with posh diplomatic positions. But during his second term, Obama has elevated a greater portion of political allies for these jobs than his recent predecessors.
Schapiro ranks as the 25th campaign bundler Obama has nominated for an ambassadorship since January 2013, and as the 50th political appointee, according to research by the Center for Public Integrity.
During the same time, Obama has nominated 37 career diplomats for ambassador posts.
Collectively, these 25 men and women have raised at least $17.6 million for Obama’s committees since 2007, although the actual total is probably much higher.
Campaigns are not legally required to disclose how much money their bundlers raise. Obama voluntarily did so during both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, but provided only broad ranges, the largest of which was “more than $500,000.”
For his part, Schapiro, along with his wife, Tamar Newberger, has raised at least $700,000 for Obama over the years, including at least $500,000 during the 2012 campaign, records show. Internal campaign documents obtained by the New York Times put the figure more than $1.26 million since 2007.
Schapiro, a partner at the international law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan LLP, is also the son of a Czech Holocaust survivor. Early on in his career, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.
If Schapiro is confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the job, he will replace Norm Eisen, another Harvard Law School classmate of Obama’s who previously served in the White House as the ethics czar.
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