After a deck-clearing of sorts before the GOP took over the Senate this year, the number of ambassadors awaiting confirmation has started to pile up again.
When the Senate returns next week from its two-week recess, there will be some 15 career diplomats awaiting action in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — for ambassadorships to garden spots like South Sudan and Somalia. And we’re told a “lot more” nominees are in the pipeline.
In addition, there were four political ambassadorial nominees left dangling at the end of last year — Charles Adams for Finland, Stafford Haney for Costa Rica, Cassandra Butts for the Bahamas and Azita Raji for Sweden — who are awaiting committee action.
Three other embassies, Luxembourg, Mexico and Norway, are awaiting nominees. Loop Fans will recall that the Norway post, vacant since September 2013, was to be filled by hotelier and bundler George Tsunis, but support for him faded after his disastrous confirmation appearance where he displayed a lack of knowledge about the country.
We’re hearing the White House is eyeing Minnesota lawyer, human rights advocate and, of course, $1 million-plus bundler Samuel D. Heins for the job. Heins founded the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, co-founded the state’s Center for Victims of Torture and is on the board of the Minnesota ACLU. (He was spotted at a White House state dinner in 2012 for British Prime Minister David Cameron — the one where George Clooney sat next to Michelle Obama — and at a dinner for French President Francois Hollande last year.)
Heins did not return our calls.
Political ambassador wannabes know that even in the best of times — and these are not the best of times for Democratic nominees — time is running out for them.
A quick tally of data kept by the American Foreign Service Association indicates that in the last two years of the Clinton administration, only about a dozen political types got ambassadorships, and only four got through in the 2000 campaign year. (Though, oddly enough, two of those four were for Barbados and Norway.)
Source: The Washington Post
Published: August 4, 2015