By Jonathan D. Salant and Julianna Goldman
May 29 (Bloomberg) — Louis Susman has one thing in common with many of his predecessors nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom: money.
Susman, 71, a retired Citigroup Inc. senior investment banker, raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and another $300,000 for his inauguration. On Wednesday, Obama nominated Susman to the post formally known as the Court of St. James.
Like Andrew Mellon, Joseph Kennedy and Walter Annenberg before him, Susman’s credentials stem more from involvement in financing party politics than foreign policy experience.
Even with his pledges to change government, Obama is following the tradition of his predecessors by offering some ambassadorships to top campaign backers, including four of the 12 nominations this week. The president acknowledged in a news conference in January that donors might get plum postings.
“The practice of rewarding donors is a remnant of the spoils system that we abolished in the civil service,” said career diplomat Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy and a former ambassador to Afghanistan. “It is a dismal testimony to the importance of money in our electoral system.”
“That said, the republic will survive the president selling a few embassies.”