Nonetheless, most President Biden’s nominees to ambassadorships thus far have been political appointees, frequently for big Democratic donors and key party players, at a higher rate than his predecessors.
While rewarding donors might seem as old as presidential elections, according to data from the American Foreign Service Association, 26 ambassador nominees were drawn from the ranks of career foreign service agents compared to 29 from "other," or political, appointees. Biden's current course puts him at 53% political appointees, though many spots remain without a nominee.
A majority of ambassadors being political appointees is, historically, rare. NPR reported that two-thirds of U.S. ambassadors come from the Foreign Service, while the rest are political appointees.
In January, the association noted 43.5% of outgoing President Trump’s ambassadors were political appointees. That was considered relatively high compared to 30% of politically appointed ambassadors under President Obama, 31% under George W. Bush and 28% by Clinton.
Biden nominees for ambassadorships have given a combined $3.2 million to Democratic campaigns, as per a report from the American Accountability Foundation, a conservative opposition research group that has focused on 22 nominees. It’s unclear how much some of the nominees helped raise for the campaign.
"If the nominees didn’t donate or raise money for Democrat campaigns, many were close political cronies with loyalty to the Democratic Party that reaches back 20 or 30 years," AAF co-founder Matt Buckham told Fox News.
"There is a lot of testing and training for foreign service diplomats," Buckham later added. "They are trained to represent the interests of the United States, not the interests of a political party."
The Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign contributions, argues Biden’s list of campaign bundlers lacked transparency. Bundlers are defined as individuals who raise large sums of money from multiple donors for a campaign.
"Biden released a list of individuals who raised at least $100,000 for his presidential campaign. Biden's list does not provide details about how much each individual raised, making it less transparent than Barack Obama’s list that grouped bundlers by different ranges of money they raised," the center said.
The center’s post points out Bauer, as well as Democratic bundler and Massachusetts state Rep. Claire Cronin, whom Biden nominated to be ambassador to Ireland. Cronin donated thousands to the Biden campaign and other Democratic campaigns. Cronin has been described as "a leading surrogate and a fund-raising bundler for Biden’s presidential bid in Massachusetts." She spoke at the Democratic National Convention roll call to cast the Massachusetts vote to nominate Biden for president in 2020.