Sign the petition: No big donors as ambassadors

Tell 2020 Democrats: No big donors as ambassadors

Petition to 2020 Democratic presidential candidates:
"Pledge not to nominate any large donors and bundlers as ambassadors if elected."

Add your name:

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Dear 5849376,

Tell 2020 Dems: No big donors as ambassadors

Trump's corruption is unconstitutional, unprecedented and unacceptable. From taxpayer money at Mar-a-Lago to profiting off hotels and his family's overseas business interests, Trump is doing real and lasting damage to the presidency.

But when it comes to ambassadors, Trump's corruption is just par for the course. Over the last few decades, presidents of both parties have appointed big donors and bundlers – people who convince others to donate – who supported their political campaigns to prominent overseas positions as ambassadors.1 It's just another way that politics as usual for both parties benefits the rich over the rest of us.

A handful of 2020 Democratic candidates – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro – pledged not to appoint donors as ambassadors. Now we need to elevate the issue and get every Democratic candidate on board.

Tell 2020 Democrats: No big donors as ambassadors. Click here to sign the petition.

Trump may not be the first to reward donors with cushy diplomatic posts, but he's definitely the worst offender. The Trump inaugural committee's decision to accept unlimited contributions made it even more expensive to become an ambassador. Trump has nominated more donors and people with strong political connections than any president since Franklin Roosevelt. More than 40% of his ambassadors were donors or bundlers, up from roughly 30% under President Obama.2

Not only is corruption getting more blatant, it's producing worse ambassadors – and not just Gordon Sondland, the hotelier at the heart of the Ukraine scandal whose only qualification to be ambassador to Ukraine was his $1 million gift to Trump's inaugural committee. According to one study, "the credentials of the average political appointee have diminished just as the average size of campaign contributions has grown." Four Obama appointments were recalled following investigations. Trump's picks are typically incompetent and corrupt, with many lacking any relevant experience for the posts. His ambassador corps consists of Trump Hotels gold-level guests, Mar-a-Lago members, scam artists and unqualified businessmen. No wonder they repeatedly produce scandals and horrify career diplomats.3,4,5

The United States is the only developed country that tolerates such obvious corruption of its diplomatic corps, instead of treating an ambassadorship being the pinnacle of a lifetime of experience and training as a diplomat. It's a bipartisan problem – and one where Democrats must do better.6 Right now, only three are willing to risk alienating the Democratic donor class for the sake of American diplomacy and security. That's unacceptable and needs to change.

Tell 2020 Democrats: No big donors as ambassadors. Click below to sign the petition:

Thank you for speaking out,

Heidi Hess, Co-Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

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  1. Alex Pasternack, "Trump's other 'quid pro quo' is Washington's biggest open secret," FastCompany, Dec. 3, 2019.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Matt Ford, "Mega-Donor Ambassadors Are Corrupting American Diplomacy," The New Republic, Oct. 30, 2019.
  5. Dennis Jett, "As the Rich Get Richer, the Ambassadors Get Worse," The Atlantic, Nov. 25, 2019.
  6. Pasternack, "Trump's other 'quid pro quo' is Washington's biggest open secret."

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