Obama Taps Top Democratic Party Official For Ambassadorship
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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — President Barack Obama has chosen a top Democratic Party official and former White House aide to be the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, one of four diplomatic posts Obama moved to fill on Thursday.
Patrick Gaspard has been executive director of the Democratic National Committee since 2011. Before that, he was political director for the White House and for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Obama announced the nominations as he opened a weeklong visit to Africa to promote democratic governments and trade. He is scheduled to arrive in South Africa on Friday.
The nominations require Senate confirmation.
Besides Gaspard, Obama tapped Miami lawyer Kirk Wagar to be ambassador to Singapore. Wagar ran the Florida finance operation for Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and last year. He also served a year, from 2011 to 2012, on the Sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee of the Export-Import Bank.
Alexa Wesner, a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities from Austin, Texas, is in line to become ambassador to Austria.
Obama also chose career foreign service officer James Swan to represent the U.S. in the Republic of Congo. Swan was ambassador to Djibouti from 2008 to 2011.
The nominations are the latest by Obama as he moves, as have presidents before him, to reward political supporters by installing them in coveted jobs at U.S. embassies around the world. Earlier this month, Obama tapped Rufus Gifford, who raised upward of $700 million as the head of Obama’s 2012 finance operation, to be U.S ambassador to Denmark. Obama also chose major fundraisers for postings in Spain and Germany.
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