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Biden names big Democratic donor Jane Hartley to serve as ambassador to London 


President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced he was nominating prominent Democratic fundraiser Jane Hartley to serve as ambassador to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, a plum overseas posting that comes with the 35-bedroom Winfield House set in 12 acres in the middle of London.

If confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first woman ambassador to Britain in 45 years. 

Hartley, 71, served as ambassador to France during the Obama presidency and was  a major donor to Barack Obama

But Biden struggled to fill the job, which is of great diplomatic importance given the long, close ties between the United States and the United Kingdom. 

At least two candidates turned down the ambassadorship to the Court of St. James, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, CNN reported.

The president last year also had considered the-now late former secretary of state Colin Powell – there has never been a black U.S. ambassador to Britain and the historic nature of the pick would have come after Meghan Markle married into the British royal family. 

The White House had also approached career Foreign Service officers, the Washington Post reported earlier this year.  

President Biden named prominent Democratic fundraiser Jane Hartley (above) to serve as ambassador to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland

Jane Hartley served as ambassador to France under President Barack Obama - seen with him in Paris in November 2015

Jane Hartley served as ambassador to France under President Barack Obama – seen with him in Paris in November 2015

Instead on Wednesday he named Hartley, a bundler to his campaign who supported him from the early days during the crowded Democratic primary in 2020.

The appointment to the UK is the most prestigious for the president to reward: the ambassador lives in the 35-bedroom Winfield House, in Regent’s Park.

The house was built for American heiress Barbara Woolworth Hutton in 1936 and Hutton donated it to the United States after World War II. It has been the ambassador’s residence since 1955. 

Its 12-acre garden is second only to the Queen’s at Buckingham Palace and has room for Marine One to land, while inside glittering reception rooms make an invitation from the ambassador a prize on London’s social scene.

Not that there is a shortage of invitations for the ambassador: the most glamorous of all when he or she presents their credentials at Buckingham Palace, riding there in a carriage and wearing a top hat and tails.

Given its benefits, the ambassadorship has been used by presidents of both parties as the ultimate reward to supporters for their loyalty or their fundraising – preferably both.

Hartley is both a donor and someone with previous diplomatic experience. 

Her tenure as ambassador to France coincided with the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in 2015 and she worked with Washington to handle diplomatic assistance.

She subsequently received the Legion of Honor from the President of France in recognition of her efforts. 

She is married to investment banker and Evercore Partners CEO Ralph Schlosstein. Schlosstein is worth an estimated $170 million and the pair make up a power couple in the world of finance.

Then Ambassador to France Jane Hartley with actress Jessica Alba (left) at the Christian Dior show as part of Paris Fashion Week in March 2016

Then Ambassador to France Jane Hartley with actress Jessica Alba (left) at the Christian Dior show as part of Paris Fashion Week in March 2016

Hartley, when French Ambassador, with author Tom Brokaw, Actor Tom Hanks, Legion of Honor's Grand Chancellor General Jean-Louis Georgelin and Doctor Gordon "Nick" Mueller at an event in Paris in May 2016

Hartley, when French Ambassador, with author Tom Brokaw, Actor Tom Hanks, Legion of Honor’s Grand Chancellor General Jean-Louis Georgelin and Doctor Gordon ‘Nick’ Mueller at an event in Paris in May 2016

Hartley, as French ambassador, with actor Michael Keaton and French minister of Culture and Communication Fleur Pellerin in January 2016

Hartley, as French ambassador, with actor Michael Keaton and French minister of Culture and Communication Fleur Pellerin in January 2016

, U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian  in the Oval Office as President Barack Obama meets with President Francois Hollande of France in November 2015

, U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian  in the Oval Office as President Barack Obama meets with President Francois Hollande of France in November 2015

35-bedroom mansion that comes with the prestigious UK ambassador posting

Ambassador to the UK is one of the most prestigious postings and comes with a 35-room neo-Georgian mansion in London’s Regent Park. 

It is believed to be one of the most expensive homes in the city, complete with 12.5 acres of grounds in prime central London making it the second largest garden after Buckingham Palace. 

The garden has room for Marine One to land, while inside glittering reception rooms make an invitation from the ambassador a prize on London’s social scene. 

The house was built for American heiress Barbara Woolworth Hutton in 1936 and Hutton donated it to the United States after World War II. It has been the ambassador’s residence since 1955. 

Former President Donald Trump was so taken with Winfield House that he wanted to lobby the Queen to extend the Crown Estate lease on the residence as part of a U.S.-U.K. trade deal.  

The U.S. ambassador's residence is Winfield House. With its 12.5 acres of grounds it has the second biggest garden in central London - after Buckingham Palace

The U.S. ambassador’s residence is Winfield House. With its 12.5 acres of grounds it has the second biggest garden in central London – after Buckingham Palace

Winfield House is in a prime location in Regents Park, central London

Winfield House is in a prime location in Regents Park, central London

The dining room at Winfield House as it is prepared to host President Trump during his 2019 state visit

The dining room at Winfield House as it is prepared to host President Trump during his 2019 state visit

President Barack Obama offers a toast to Queen Elizabeth II during a dinner held in the Queen's honor at Winfield House in May 2011 - actor Tom Hanks is next to The Queen

President Barack Obama offers a toast to Queen Elizabeth II during a dinner held in the Queen’s honor at Winfield House in May 2011 – actor Tom Hanks is next to The Queen

A media preview of a dinner then President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted for Prince Charles at Winfield House in June 2019

A media preview of a dinner then President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted for Prince Charles at Winfield House in June 2019

Hartley worked in the White House between 1978 and 1980 when Jimmy Carter was president. She went into the private sector as a TV executive, followed by 20 years at an economic consulting firm, the Observatory Group. 

Biden, as vice president, was the one who swore her in as ambassador to France.

She was in that job when three coordinated teams of Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers carried out a wave of attacks across Paris that killed 130 people in November 2015.

As ambassador, she asked the American artist Jeff Koons to create an appropriate work in homage to the victims of the attacks.

It was partly inspired by the Statue of Liberty, but where the hand of Lady Liberty holds a torch, Koons’s sculpture of a huge white hand grips a bouquet of multi-coloured balloon tulips.

When the work, called Bouquet of Tulips, was unveiled in a park behind the Petit Palais just off the Champs-Elysees in 2019 there was a deafening chorus of criticism. The creation rapidly became known as the ‘tulips of discord’.  

Hartley and the other ambassadors Biden named on Wednesday must be confirmed by the Senate. 

The White House also announced Biden would nominate major donor Alan Leventhal to serve as his envoy to Denmark; longtime diplomat and attorney Elizabeth Bagley to serve as ambassador to Brazil; and career senior foreign service officer Alexander Laskaris to serve in Chad.

Nearly a third of Biden’s ambassador nominees to date are campaign bundlers – a common practice for presidents of both parties who use the overseas postings to reward big donors. 

When he was running for president, Biden said that no ambassadors would secure their jobs because they’d given to his campaign.

‘I’m going to appoint the best people possible,’ he said in 2019. ‘Nobody, in fact, will be appointed by me based on anything they contributed.’

French President Francois Hollande (R) and the outgoing U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley (L), react after she was awarded the Legion of Honour (Legion d'Honneur) in Paris in January 2017

French President Francois Hollande (R) and the outgoing U.S. ambassador to France, Jane Hartley (L), react after she was awarded the Legion of Honour (Legion d’Honneur) in Paris in January 2017

A third of President Biden's ambassador picks have been donors to his campaign

A third of President Biden’s ambassador picks have been donors to his campaign

About 44% of Donald Trump´s ambassadorial appointments were political appointees, compared with 31% for Barack Obama and 32% for George W. Bush, according to the American Foreign Service Association. 

Biden hopes to keep political appointments to about 30% of ambassador picks, an administration official told the Associated Press. 

Bagley, an attorney, held diplomatic positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations, including stints as a senior adviser to Secretaries of State John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright. She served U.S. ambassador to Portugal during the Clinton administration.

Laskaris is currently a senior adviser in the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department. He has also served as deputy to the commander at the United States Africa Command, ambassador to the Guinea, and as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Burundi.

Biden has faced criticism for lagging behind on ambassadorial nominations. His nominees on Wednesday come the day before his one-year anniversary in the Oval Office.  



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