The more money you give to the President’s campaign, the more attract diplomatic post you get, one study finds:
Titled “What Price the Court of St. James’s? Political Influences on Ambassadorial Postings of the United States of America,” the paper looks at diplomatic appointments in the Obama administration through January 2011. Dr. Fedderke and Dr. Jett theorize that the most desirable postings are those to countries “that are not obscure, dangerous, poor or of low interest to tourists.” Where “political campaign contributions (financial or otherwise) exercise an influence on the nature of posting received,” the desirability of a posting should correspond to the size of the campaign contribution.
The researchers compared available information on donors’ direct political contributions and “bundling” — money raised on behalf of Mr. Obama by supporters — with data on the national income of host countries, their relative level of safety, and the robustness of their tourist industries.
Not surprisingly, the authors found that politically connected ambassadors, including former aides as well as donors, were statistically more likely to be posted to countries in the Caribbean, North America and Central America. But those whose political connections to Mr. Obama were measured in dollars, rather than administration service, had an increased chance of representing the United States in Western Europe, and a markedly smaller chance of serving in, say, Central Asia or sub-Saharan Africa. The study found that political ambassadors who had made campaign donations of $550,000, or bundled contributions of $750,000, had a 90 percent chance of being posted to a country in Western Europe.
So what is the dollar amount?
Luxembourg came in at the top of the chart, with a posting there valued at $3.1 million in direct contributions, while an appointment to Portugal was predicted to have a value of $602,686 in personal contributions. The model suggests that bundlers can get the same posts for less: Portugal was valued at about $341,160 in bundled contributions, Luxembourg at $1.8 million.
When factoring in a country’s tourist trade, however, France and Monaco top the list, with the level of personal contributions at $6.2 million and bundled contributions at $4.4 million.
And what price is the Court of St. James’s — diplomatic-speak for Britain, the nation’s most prestigious post? “The price for the Court of St. James’s,” the authors find, “appears to lie between $650,000 and $2.3 million.”
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams didn’t pay nearly anywhere that much!