President Barack Obama has named two Chicago cronies with no foreign policy experience to coveted ambassadorships. One, Colleen Bell, is a writer for The Bold and the Beautiful who married into “Chicago’s soap opera dynasty,” reports Carol Felsenthal of Chicago magazine. The other is Mark Gilbert, who played seven games for the Chicago White Sox in 1985–all at home in old Comiskey Park. Both are major bundlers.
Bell bundled $500,000 for the Obama campaign, using her network of contacts to raise maximum donations from other contributors. She also hosted a $35,800-per-plate fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Los Angeles in 2012, Felsenthal notes, but has “no discernible foreign policy creds.” She has been nominated–and will almost certainly be confirmed–as the new U.S. Ambassador to Hungary.
Gilbert, who bundled $436,000, will be representing the U.S. in New Zealand–a traditional sinecure for Chicago politicos. Former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun once served in that post under President Bill Clinton after losing her seat to Peter Fitzgerald in 1998. According to the USA Today, Gilbert would be the first former major league player to serve as a U.S. Ambassador, but has no foreign policy record, either.
The most high-profile Chicago crony in the second Obama administration is Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who raised millions of dollars for the president.