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“He underscored for the entire world that he wasn’t qualified,” said St. Paul lawyer T. Michael Davis, a longtime member of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce-Minnesota who has spearheaded the campaign against Tsunis. “Political campaign contributions alone cannot be the determining factor of a nomination.”
Presidents often reward major campaign contributors with ambassadorial appointments. During his second term, Obama has nominated 23 such contributors for the diplomatic posts. According to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan investigative news organization, the 23 contributors had raised a total of $16.1 million for Obama since 2007.
Sam Kaplan, the Minnesota lawyer hosting a Democratic fundraiser Thursday featuring Obama, spent 3½ years as an ambassador in Morocco. Kaplan and his wife, Sylvia, raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for the Obama campaign in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group that tracks money in politics.
Sons of Norway, an international membership organization founded in Minneapolis in the late 1800s, has not taken a stance on Tsunis’ nomination, but sons of Norway like Sorensen aren’t standing idly by.
“The U.S. deserves better representation in Norway,” said Sorensen, former president of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce-Minnesota. “This gentleman will not be received with any degree of respect.”
Corey Mitchell is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau. Twitter: @C_C_Mitchell