FEBRUARY 04, 2011
An Obama fundraiser awarded a cushy European ambassadorship after bundling more than half a million dollars for his presidential campaign ran her U.S. embassy like a hostile dictator, spent government funds on booze and bullied staff.Here comes the good part. State Department leadership (that includes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) knew all about it but took no action, presumably because the wealthy donor—a Seattle philanthropist named Cynthia Stroum—is untouchable. At least that’s what an internal State Department investigation seems to indicate.Made public this week, a scathing report of the probe says that during her year-long tenure as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg Stroum brought the embassy “to a state of dysfunction” with her “confrontational management style” and an “absence of a sense of direction.” Things got so out of control that career staffers requested transfers to less than desirable locations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.Stroum was seen by most employees as “aggressive, bullying, hostile and intimidating,” according to investigators, who recommended that Uncle Sam deploy medical professionals to Luxembourg to treat high stress levels among embassy employees. Stroum also did unscrupulous things like spend $3,400 on alcohol, even though it’s against regulations.In short, Obama’s cherished money lady left the otherwise quaint embassy in the tiny European country a disaster. She quit abruptly a few weeks ago because the inspector general’s report—prepared last fall—was becoming public. The State Department has made no official announcement and clearly prefers to pretend the scandal never happened.It appears that those who donate enough money to the right politician can get away with anything at the agency responsible for America’s international relations. At least that’s what its internal watchdog has concluded, that Stroum’s behavior is not unique among “non-career ambassadors” (wealthy donors rewarded with plum foreign posts) but routinely tolerated by State Department leadership.
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