CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. Nov. 20, 2009: Two confirmed Obama ambassadorial picks for the Caribbean and one recent nominee raised more than US$1.4 million for the 2008 presidential campaign committee, a D.C. watchdog group says.
Research from the Center for Responsive Politics reveals that new U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, Nicole Avant, raised a whopping $800,000 for Team Obama in his bid for president of the United States. She is at the top of the list of donors turned ambassadors.
Michael Beckel, writing for CRP`s site, OpenSecrets, wrote that most of Obama`s top donors are now being rewarded with cushy ambassadorial posts. Avant, who took her up post as the 13th United States Ambassador to The Bahamas on October 22, 2009, has no foreign policy experience but worked largely in the entertainment field.
She is the daughter of entertainment industry legend Clarence Avant and philanthropist, Jacqueline Avant and prior to her appointment, was vice president of Interior Music Publishing and Avant Garde Music Publishing (1998-2009) and was the Southern California Finance Co-Chairwoman of the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign.
Obama`s current pick for ambassador to the oil rich nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Beatrice Wilkinson Welters, raised $500,000 for the campaign, according to CRP, and ranks fifth among the top givers to date who have been tapped by Obama to serve as US ambassadors overseas.
She, along with her family, have contributed $28,400 to Obama`s campaign while her husband contributed the legal maximum of $4,600 to Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. But her sons, Bryant, a college student at Notre Dame, and Andrew, a high school student in Washington, D.C., also gave the maximum amount, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission, even though both were classified as "not employed/student.`
Wilkinson Welters, who now faces a Senate confirmation, also has no foreign service experience but is a former IBM engineer turned non-profit chair.
The current Belize ambassador, Indian national Vinai Thummalapally, raised $100,000 for the campaign and ranks in the bottom five of those fund raisers turned ambassadors. Thummalapally, who was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Belize by the U.S. Senate on July 24, 2009, also has no background in the foreign service but was President of MAM-A Inc., formerly Mitsui Advanced Media, the nation`s leading manufacturer and distributor of archival recordable optical discs.
Only thirty-five of the ambassadors nominated globally so far by Obama are career members of the U.S. Foreign Service.
Forty-six of the president`s ambassador picks personally donated to Obama, CRP found, giving him a combined $306,700 while seven of the ambassadors who were politically appointed have, never personally contributed to federal politicians above the FEC`s $200 reporting threshold.