When George W. Bush took office, 1,700 of his campaign contributors reportedly lined up for nominations as ambassadors. Bush has since awarded diplomatic posts to 24 Pioneers and Rangers– supporters who have helped his 2000 and 2004 campaigns by bundling contributions of at least $100,000 or $200,000, respectively. (Five of them, like Bush, happen to have been baseball team owners. See “Bush’s Baseball Ambassadors”, July/August 2004)

A 1980 federal law requires that campaign contributions “should not be a factor” in naming ambassadors. It also specifies that nominees should be able to speak the local language. By this standard, the credentials of Bush’s donors-turned-diplomats are particularly sparse. For instance, consider that our man in France — a country we’ve had our share of diplomatic tussles with lately — doesn’t speak French. Now, more of George W. Bush’s world-class ambassadors. — Benjamin Leslie


Mauritius. 2002 – present.

$573,555

Skipped Mauritius’ presidential inauguration, prompting the country’s largest paper to call for his resignation. Also recently fined $8.1 million by Utah Supreme Court for cheating his business partners.


Ireland. 2001 – 2002.

$489,600

Made a soft money contribution of $250,000 to the GOP in the summer of 2000, and was soon on his way to Dublin.

$376,859

The billionaire former CEO of Lynch Capital didn’t speak any French when he was posted to Paris. He reportedly has been taking lessons, though.


Netherlands. 2001 – present.

$295,700

Dutch-deficient Ambassador Sobel says he loves the Netherlands because “everybody speaks English.”


Portugal. 2001 – present.

$185,650

Big supporter of Bush 41. Speaks no Portuguese.


Norway. 2001 – present.

$181,085

Fined $15,000 by the Federal Election Commission for illegal fundraising in 1997 and 1999. Doesn’t speak Norwegian.


Jamaica. 2001 – present.

$164,750

Married to Charles Cobb, who was appointed ambassador to Iceland after donating over $100,000 to George Bush Sr.


Austria. 2001 – present.

$133,700

The former CEO of Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort, does speak German. Prost!


Hungary. 2001 – 2003.

$125,990

Prior to posting, this Dallas socialite had no Eastern European experience.


Slovak Republic. 2001 – present.

$40,250

Was the 2000 Bush campaign’s Michigan finance chair. Doesn’t speak Slovakian.


Uruguay. 2001 – present.

$38,325

Buddies with homeland security chief Tom Ridge. Self-described as “professionally competent” in Spanish.


Malta. 2001 – present.

$37,411

AKA “The Pasta Magnate.” Fortunately, Malta is English-speaking.


Belize. 2001 – present.

$3,750

This North Dakota lawyer’s brother was a major investor in Bush’s business dealings. Speaks Belize’s official language — English.


Saudi Arabia. 2001 – 2003.

$2,650

Represented Bush during SEC inquiries into possible insider trading in 1990. Also a law partner of Bush family consigliere and House of Saud pal James Baker.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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