Obama Donor George Tsunis Ends Appeal to Be Ambassador to Norway

By on April 3, 2015

Not even $1.3 million dollars could get George Tsunis an ambassadorship in the Obama Administration. The wealthy New York hotelier became the laughing stock of both parties as he fumbled and bumbled his way through the nomination hearing with Senators rolling their eyes and lambasting Tsunis for his lack of knowledge on Norway, where he was set to serve.

“I have elected not to renew my nomination for the next Senate session as I did last year, and will let the nomination expire,” Tsunis said in an email, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Tsunis first appeared on Anderson Cooper’s “Ridiculist” where he was mocked profusely.

“I’m not sure Tsunis even googled Norway,” Cooper said in his commentary.

The wave of protest and ridicule grew as Norwegian Americans— primarily from Minnesota, protested and lobbied their representatives and asked them to intervene. The matter even touched nerves in Norway. They said sending Tsunis to Oslo as an ambassador would embarrass the United States.

“We expect the U.S. representative to Norway to be someone who can meet at least a minimum standard of qualifications,” said Ivar Sorensen, a former head of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce.

Tsunis’ nomination hearing was called “one of the most cringeworthy nomination hearings in recent memory” by NPR.

Tsunis, known as a major fundraiser in Democratic, as well as Republican party circles, raised more than $1 million for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. His appointment for the post in Norway was nothing new as Presidents– Democrats and Republicans alike, have appointed donors to posts around the world often.

Another Greek American, Eleni Tsakopoulos, serves as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and was appointed by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The daughter of wealthy California land developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, was one of Clinton’s top donors and fund raisers, often opening her San Francisco home for events. By all accounts, both in the United States and in Hungary, Tsakopoulos served her position well and with great success.

George Argyros too– another political appointee and major donor to George W. Bush became US Ambassador to Spain in 2001. Argyros, a wealthy California real estate tycoon also had better luck than Tsunis and although criticized at the time, returned from Spain with a good record of service.


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