The appointment of Cynthia Stroum, a big Obama campaign donor, as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg was not considered all that unusual. Big donors are often given plum diplomatic posts in plush European capitals.
Generally, either the donor in question has some kind of expertise or ties in the country to which they are posted or else they are smart enough to leave the heavy diplomatic lifting to the professional Foreign Service staff and restrict themselves to socializing and embassy receptions.
Not Cynthia Stroum, however. It seems that the wealthy businesswoman from Seattle was a disaster in her new posting in Luxembourg.
According to the AP, a report from the State Department’s Inspector General was damning;
“According to an internal State Department report released Thursday, less than a week after she quit, Stroum’s management of the U.S. Embassy in the tiny country was abysmal. The report says her tenure of about one year was fraught with personality conflicts, verbal abuse and questionable expenditures on travel, wine and liquor.”
Ambassador Stroum was apparently the boss from Hell at the tiny embassy in Luxembourg, riding roughshod over the professional staff. Things got so bad that several of the Foreign Service professionals took the unusual step of requesting transfers to Afghanistan or Iraq. Things had to be really bad if service in a war zone was preferable to service under Cynthia Stroum.
Ambassador Stroum also helped herself to the perks of office to an unusually great degree. Stroum spent large sums on things like liquor and wine, an aide’s enrollment in a Swiss “professional school” and a queen-sized bed.
On the surface, besides having raised about a half a million dollars for the Obama Presidential campaign, Stroum seemed to have solid business credentials that might have proven useful for the job of an ambassador. She was an investor, an entertainment producer and a philanthropist.
What Stroum seemed to lack was the kind of temperament necessary for being in public service. Running an embassy like a personal fiefdom is just not done, even by the loose standards of the Obama administration. This suggests that a breakdown occurred in the vetting of Stroum for the job she got as a reward for being such a good money machine for the Obama campaign.
Stroum has been allowed to resign rather than be given the Royal Order of the Boot, announcing she might focus on her family and her business affairs. The State Department in turned thanked her for her service and no doubt breathed a sigh of relief that it was concluded.
Source: Big Obama donor quits envoy job amid criticism, AP, February 4th, 2011