Obama could name Vogue editor to ambassadorship

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour arrives at LACMA 2012 Art + Film Gala at LACMA on October 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kevin Winter

As President Obama is in the process of arranging his new administration, high-dollar donors might be recipients of plum posts.

For instance, Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, is reportedly being considered for an ambassadorship to either the U.K. or France, according to Bloomberg News. Wintour, who was born in the U.K. but is now a U.S. citizen, contributed $30,000 to the president's reelection campaign, but she hosted two high-profile fundraisers as well. One was a $40,000 per person affair at the home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker and another high-dollar soiree was at movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's home. Such actions placed Wintour as one of Mr. Obama's top bundlers, raising at least $2.6 million for his reelection, based on figures compiled by the New York Times as of September.

Matthew Barzun, who served as the finance chair of Mr. Obama's reelection campaign, is also being mentioned for the job, according to Bloomberg News.

Rewarding political contributors with high-profile ambassadorships is not new for presidents. Mr. Obama has named numerous political contributors to top diplomatic posts including in Luxembourg, Turkey, Belize, Japan and a host of additional countries.

Despite promising to ban lobbyists and special interests from his government, Mr. Obama has engaged in the practice at a slightly hire rate than his predecessors.

Currently, 31 percent of the president's ambassadors are political, but during the beginning of his first term, the number reached approximately 40 percent, according to the American Foreign Service Association. Since 1960, the average hovered around 30 percent, which is the percentage of political ambassadors appointed under President George W. Bush. President Clinton's political appointment rate was about 27.8 percent.

Some within the government and the foreign service are opposed to politically motivated appointments. One employee who spoke to CBSNews.com pointed to the Foreign Service Act of 1980 that says appointments should "normally be accorded to career members" of the Foreign Service. The law goes on to say that "contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor."

"We think this is broadly and unwisely ignored," the Foreign Service employee said. He said the jobs are complex and demanding and should be given to people with diplomatic experience.

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.