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Sen. Al Franken opposes Obama's Norwegian ambassador nominee

  • Blog Post by: Allison Sherry
  • June 3, 2014 - 4:40 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Al Franken sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday warning him that he will vote against the nomination of George Tsunis as Norwegian ambassador after hearing concerns from the outsized community in Minnesota.

Norwegian-Americans across the country were alarmed at Tsunis' unsteady January appearance in front of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, as well as his admission he has never visited the country.

In January, Tsunis thanked one senator for a "save" when he couldn't answer a question. Then, in responding to a question from Sen. John McCain, said the country's government had "condemned" a party within its own coalition -- which isn't true.

"I stand corrected," Tsunis told McCain.

"I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees," McCain said, clearly sarcastic.

Tsunis is a Greek-American millionaire businessman who has given money to both Republicans and Democrats, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

T. Michael Davis, a longtime member of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce-Minnesota, wrote an op-ed in the Star Tribune in February expressing his concerns.

In Franken's letter to Kerry, Franken said the United States "should not do anything that might unneccesarily damage our strong relationship with Norway -- a relationship I am committed to sustaining and strengthening in the years to come."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar told the White House earlier this year that she, too, would not support his nomination.

Minnesota is home to the largest Norwegian-American community in the country. 

© 2014 Star Tribune