Obama taps top fundraisers, bundlers for ambassadorships

Just six months into his second term, President Obama has nominated a slew of campaign donors and fundraisers for ambassadorships.

These nominations include major bundlers Denise Bauer and a Los Angeles entertainment attorney Crystal Nix Hines.

As of last month, Obama had given 32.2 percent of ambassadorships to political appointees -- almost identical to his first term rate and slightly higher than those of recent predecessors in the long-held tradition of presidents rewarding big-time financial supporters.

The number compares to 30.02 percent under George W. Bush, 27.82 percent under Bill Clinton and 31.30 percent under George H.W. Bush, according to the American Foreign Service Association.

The president has nominated 19 people for ambassadorships in the second term including at least eight bundlers, according to The Hill newspaper.

The 2011-2012 amounts range from $2.36 million by Bauer, chairwoman of the Women for Obama Finance, who would go to Belgium, to $477,000 from Hines, who would represent the United States at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.

Other bundlers have been named to serve in Austria, Germany, Singapore, Spain, the Dominican Republic and the United Kingdom.

But much of the attention remains focused on who will get two of the remaining top posts -- France and Japan.

According to The Hill, Democratic National Committee National Finance Chairwoman Jane Stetson, who raised $2.43 million for Obama, is in line for the coveted Paris post, which would knock out Vogue editor-in-chief Anne Wintour, who raised $2.68 million and purportedly wanted either the London or Paris diplomatic positions.

Beyond Wintour, the most talked about potential ambassadorship is Caroline Kennedy to Japan.

Kennedy, daughter of President Kennedy, certainly has the political pedigree and ranks among the president’s biggest fundraisers and political supporters. However, critics argue that her lack of experience in elected office makes her a risky choice as Japan remains a crucial ally in trying to maintain stability in the Korean Peninsula.

Still, Dartmouth government professor Jennifer Lind argues Kennedy’s stature give her extraordinary access to the president and that her father’s “unconventional ” decision in the 1960s to appoint Harvard professor Edwin O. Reischauer to the Tokyo post “helped knit … two countries once dismissed as impossible allies.”

The Foreign Service union, while not directly criticizing Kennedy or Obama, told FoxNews.com this spring that it does not support such appointments and that the rate of political appointees to ambassadorships for Japan and major European countries is as high as 85 percent.

“The sale of ambassadorships and rewards for political support basically suggests we really don’t value diplomacy,” said then-union President Susan Johnson.

Other major Obama bundlers being considered by the president in his second term include retired JP Morgan executive Azita Raji, who reportedly raised $3.15 million and is Obama’s top pick for ambassador to Switzerland.