Elizabeth Warren just targeted one of the most open forms of presidential corruption
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Image credit: Public Citizen / Flickr)

This week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose presidential campaign has been surging in recent polls, has not only been calling for universal health care, banking reforms and a tax policy more favorable to the American middle class — she has also discussed changes she has in mind for the U.S. State Department. And in a Medium article published on Friday, the Massachusetts senator announced that if elected president, she would end the practice of giving away ambassadorships to the most affluent or generous donors.

“The practice of auctioning off American diplomacy to the highest bidder must end,” Warren declares in her article. President Donald Trump, the senator complains, “has perfected the act of selling swanky diplomatic posts to rich buffoons.” And the State Department, Warren stresses, is way too important to U.S. interests abroad for positions to be sold based on donations.

“This president may think a fat wallet and a big campaign check qualifies someone to represent our country abroad,” Warren asserts. “I don’t. I don’t spend my time at fancy closed-door fundraisers trading favors for money, and I’ll make my ambassadorial appointments based on only one thing: finding the most qualified person for the job.”

Trump, according to Warren, “has appointed political cronies to nearly half the available ambassadorial positions — far more than any president in recent memory.” And she explains in her piece why having well-qualified ambassadors and diplomats is vital to U.S. interests.

And it’s not just Republicans like Trump who have come under scrutiny for this practice. President Barack Obama, too, was criticized for using ambassadorships as giveaways to big campaign contributors.

“Our diplomats are the front line of our engagement with the world,” Warren observes. “They serve in over 270 posts worldwide, many in difficult or dangerous locations. They communicate our goals in more than 70 languages. They manage conflict, help U.S. companies compete and assist Americans abroad.”

Warren stresses that the State Department has suffered considerably under Trump’s watch. According to Warren, the State Department has “lost 60% of its career ambassadors and 20% of its most experienced civil servants” in the Trump era — and these “skilled diplomats” have “been replaced with totally unqualified campaign donors and other Trump cronies.” Such cronies, Warren points out, have ranged from a “handbag designer” to a “real estate lawyer accused of sexual harassment.”

The senator calls on fellow Democratic presidential candidates to join her in calling for an end to the practice of putting a “for sale” sign on ambassadorial positions.

“I’m pledging to put America’s national interests ahead of campaign donations and end the corrupt practice of selling cushy diplomatic posts to wealthy donors, and I call on everyone running for president to do the same,” Warren asserts. “I won’t give ambassadorial posts to wealthy donors or bundlers — period.”