President Joe Biden has selected one of the big-money political donors to his presidential campaign to be his ambassador to Kenya. Biden chose former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman to fill the post. She donated $500,000 to the Biden Victory Fund last year.
Whitman, who at one time was one of the highest-paid female executives in corporate America, has been politically active for years – and she has supported both sides of the aisle. She ran in 2010 as a Republican for governor in California but lost to Democrat Jerry Brown. She supported now-Sen. Mitt Romney’s runs for president in 2008 before she became Sen. John McCain’s national campaign co-chair. In 2012, she backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election against Donald Trump, CNBC reported.
In 2020, Whitman gave $500,000 to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that benefited the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
It’s not unusual for wealthy donors to get ambassadorships in Democratic and Republican administrations.
But Biden is outpacing predecessors with ambassadorships for donors, political supporters.
A majority of Biden’s nominees to ambassadorships thus far have been political appointees, frequently for big Democratic donors and key party players, at a rate higher than his predecessors.
According to data from the American Foreign Service Association, 26 ambassador nominees were career foreign service agents compared to 29 from “other,” or political, appointees. Biden’s current course puts him at 53 percent political appointees, though many spots remain without a nominee, Fox News reported.
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Moguldom CEO Jamarlin Martin tweeted of the Whitman nomination, “She purchased a seat in the Biden government. ‘Per FEC filings, Whitman has donated a total of $505,600 to the Biden Victory Fund, leading to a grand total of $508,400 in donations to Biden, according to Forbes.’ She was likely involved in some Biden ‘dark money,’ off the books.”
“Islands, Norwegian and African countries’ ambassador seats are always slotted for the biggest donors in Presidential campaigns,” replied James Paladin @james_paladinI.
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Before heading up Hewlett-Packard, Whitman was the CEO of e-commerce giant eBay. She later became the CEO of Quibi, the short-lived, short-form video platform founded by Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.
She is one of the at least 134 billionaires or their spouses who donated to former Biden’s presidential campaign, per a Forbes analysis of federal campaign records. Whitman has a reported $5 billion, Business Insider reported.
Michelle Cottle, a member of the editorial board at The New York Times, wrote in an opinion piece for the newspaper that it’s time to stop letting “rich people buy ambassadorships.”
She pointed out that the law outlining the qualifications of Foreign Service “chiefs of mission” is “explicit about forking over buckets of campaign cash as a qualification: ‘Contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor in the appointment of an individual as a chief of mission.’”
She added, “At this point, top donors have come to see themselves as entitled to such spoils. It is time to reset those expectations. Joe Biden was elected to restore honor and decency, and competence to the White House and the government more broadly. Dismantling the donor-to-ambassador pipeline would be a quick step in that direction.”