President Barack Obama has named two more of his top campaign fundraisers for plum diplomatic posts, nominating Mark Gilbert to be U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Rob Barber to the same position in Iceland.
With the choices, Obama continues his aggressive push to elevate major bundlers and loyalists to top diplomatic jobs.
Gilbert, a Florida-based director at the financial services firm Barclays, raised at least $1.2 million for Obama since 2007, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of campaign disclosures and data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Meanwhile, Barber, an attorney at Boston-based Looney & Grossman LLP, bundled at least $600,000, including at least $500,000 for Obama's 2012 re-election efforts.
So far this year, only 46 percent of Obama's ambassador-nominees have been career diplomats — and fully 30 percent have been big-money campaign fundraisers. The rest have been political allies, such as Caroline Kennedy and Samantha Power, but not campaign fundraisers.
Recent presidents have named political appointees to roughly one-third of ambassadorships, according to the American Foreign Service Association, the labor union and trade association for career diplomats.
White House spokesmen Eric Schultz has said that “being a donor does not get you a job in this administration, nor does it preclude you from getting one.”
"I am proud to nominate such impressive men and women to these important roles, and I am grateful they have agreed to lend their considerable talents to this Administration,” Obama was quoted as saying in the Tuesday night press release announcing the selections.