Diplomacy: US president Barack Obama has nominated Florida businessman Robert A. Mandell as the next US ambassador to Luxembourg, but the Senate still has to approve the appointment.
According to an official release from the White House, Robert A. Mandell is “Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Greater Properties, Inc., a commercial real estate venture in Central Florida. Previously, he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Greater Construction Corp., from 1998 until 2005.” Greater House was founded by Mandell’s father in 2005. 63 year-old Mandell, who holds a B.S. and a J.D. from the University of Florida, also serves on the Board of Directors of various health and medical research institutions. In 2010 he was appointed to the President’s Export Council which advises the White House on international trade.
The Huffington Post blog claims Mandell contributed $30,000 to Obama’s 2008 election campaign and a further $50,000 (the limit set by the President) to the inauguration committee--a donation that guarantees invitation to the ceremony, parade and inauguration ball.
If appointed--and there is no reason to expect the Senate to reject or delay his nomination--Mandell will fill the gap at the US Embassy left when Cynthia Stroum suddenly quit her post at the end of January this year to “focus on my family and personal business”. It was later revealed that Stroum’s ambassadorship had been the subject of what the Diplopundit blog called the “horror report of the year” from the State Department. The report heavily criticised Stroum’s management style and claimed she had caused acute stress to staff at the embassy. It also detailed “improper” spending by the ambassador, including a $2,400 on a trip to a Swiss professional school made without proper authorisation; the purchase of $3,400 in wine and liquor a day before the 2010 budget year ended and the wrong reimbursement of the cost of a new bed.
The embassy is currently being managed by Chargé d’affaires David R. Fetter, who arrived in April from his previous posting as U.S. Consul General in Quebec City.
TEXT: Duncan Roberts · PHOTO(S): Ed Brown