President Barack Obama plans to nominate Jane Hartley, a campaign fundraiser with close ties to the financial industry, as the next U.S. ambassador to France.
The White House announced the choice of Hartley, co-founder of the economic and political advisory firm Observatory Group LLC, shortly after Obama participated in D-Day commemoration ceremonies yesterday in France.
Hartley, 64, would replace Charles Rivkin, another Obama fundraiser who the president has named assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs. Rivkin was confirmed for the State Department position in February.
Hartley and her husband, Ralph Schlosstein, co-founder and former president of Blackrock Inc. and now chief executive officer and president of Evercore Partners Inc., were co-hosts of a March 2012 fundraiser for Obama in New York that drew donors from the financial industry.
Hartley raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and has made contributions to other Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Her extensive ties to Democratic politics include service on Jimmy Carter’s White House staff.
Prior to co-founding the Observatory Group in 2007, Hartley was chief executive officer for 12 years of the G7 Group, another advisory firm that analyzed government policies for financial customers. The G7 Group was acquired in 2004 by China-based Xinhua Holdings Ltd.
She is a former vice chairman and member of the Executive Committee of the Economic Club of New York, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, according to a biography provided by the White House.
Avenue Capital Group LLC co-founder Marc Lasry, another major Obama financial-industry fundraiser, once had been the leading candidate for the Paris posting. After his name surfaced, he told clients of the distressed-debt firm that he would stay at New York-based Avenue. He said in an April 2013 Bloomberg Television interview that leaving the firm for government service “just isn’t feasible.”
According to data kept by the American Foreign Service Association, the union representing foreign service personnel, 36 percent of Obama’s 345 ambassadorial appointments have been political allies, with the rest coming from the ranks of career diplomats.
By comparison, Obama’s immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, made political appointments for 30 percent of 453 positions over his two terms and former President Bill Clinton had political appointees in 28 percent of 417 positions. The envoy in Paris is among the ambassadorships that most often have gone to political allies since 1960, according to the association’s figures.