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Soap opera producer tapped for top diplomatic post

Colleen Bell, a major Obama fundraiser, selected as ambassador to Hungary

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President Barack Obama has nominated one of his top fundraisers in Hollywood to be the next U.S. ambassador to Hungary, the White House announced Wednesday night.

Obama's new choice for the job? Colleen Bell, a producer for Bell-Phillip Television Productions, Inc., the company behind the daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.

Last year, Bell and her husband, Bradley Bell, hosted two campaign fundraising events at their home in Los Angeles that Obama personally attended. One was a reception with about 1,000 supporters that featured a musical performance by the Foo Fighters. The other was a more intimate dinner party with about 80 people attending where tickets cost $35,800 per person, according to the White House press pool report.

All told, Bell helped raise at least $500,000 for Obama's re-election efforts, according to a voluntary disclosure by the Obama campaign. Documents obtained by the New York Times put the total at more than $2 million.

Bell ranks as the 23rd major campaign bundler to be nominated for an ambassadorship since January, according to research by the Center for Public Integrity. Collectively, these moneymen and women raised more than $16 million for Obama since he launched his first presidential campaign in 2007.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bell herself this year has made campaign contributions to Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and former Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the Democrat who prevailed in the special New Jersey U.S. Senate election last month. All three will face voters in November 2014.

On Wednesday night, Obama also announced his intent to nominate Joseph W. Westphal, the current under secretary of the U.S. Army, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.