Washington One-third of President Bush's top 2000 fund-raisers or their spouses were appointed to positions in his first administration, from ambassadorships in Europe to seats on policy boards, an Associated Press review found.
The perks for 246 "pioneers" who raised at least $100,000 also included overnight stays at the White House and Camp David, parties at the White House and Bush's Texas ranch, state dinners with world leaders and overseas travel with U.S. delegations to the Olympics and other events, the review found.
At least two dozen of the 2000 pioneers or their spouses became ambassadors, mostly to Europe.
At least 57 contributors or their spouses were named to agency positions, advisory or decision-making committees and boards or to U.S. delegations.
Three top Bush fund-raisers became Cabinet secretaries: Bush 2000 finance chairman Don Evans at Commerce, Elaine Chao at Labor and Tom Ridge at Homeland Security. At least eight took other high-profile administration jobs, such as State Department chief financial officer Christopher Burnham and Jose Fourquet, U.S. executive director of the Inter-American Development Bank.
The practice of rewarding big donors and fund-raisers with ambassadorships and government appointees is ingrained in Washington. Former President Clinton, in his first year in office, picked five $100,000-plus Democratic donors to be ambassadors.
"Just because it is done often does not make it right," said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group.