With top cabinet posts and senior White House positions filled, the Obama administration’s process of appointing influential New York bundlers to coveted sub-cabinet positions is well underway.
But this time around, it’s not entirely clear who the well-connected bundlers need to be lobbying for jobs.
Whereas Terry McAuliffe famously served that role for the Clintons, some New York donors say there is not one gatekeeper they can readily identify.
“Everyone has different rabbis,” said one Democratic donor.
Some of the donors said they are not entirely sure if the administration’s chief liaison for the New York donors is the campaign’s national finance chair Penny Pritzker or his finance director Julianna Smoot or someone else. One source said that staffer Jenny Yeager, who raised money for him full-time in New York, and Pritzker’s deputy finance chairman, David Jacobson, were acting as “filters” who were bringing the more deserving donors to the transition team’s attention.
One formal position that donors are keeping an eye is who Obama appoints to head the office of presidential personnel, through which all formal appointments are made.
The bundlers are not idly waiting around.
“Everyone goes from allies in the quest to seek the presidency to competitors in the quest to seek appointments,” said one Clinton fund-raiser. “It’s an ugly process, a very demeaning process, where it’s hand-to-hand combat with people vying for positions. It brings out some of the worst aspects of human nature. You are now having to advocate for yourself.”
The speculative consensus, understandably, is that early Obama bundlers have the best chances of getting their wishes granted.
“Orin can get whatever he wants,” said one New York bundler. “He’s not on the list. He’s his own list.”
But the appointment of Fred Hochberg, a former deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration under Bill Clinton, who acted as a major Clinton bundler before moving on to raise money for Obama, has once again shown that the Obama campaign is by no means not limiting its selections to die-hard loyalists.
“The thing that’s the most encouraging is that Hillary Clinton herself is in the cabinet and that she has the position of secretary of state,” said the former Clinton fund-raiser. “I think it’s terrific that Obama has done this and that’s the biggest message that has been sent.”
“Hillary Clinton is going to have a role in choosing the ambassadorships,” said another former Clinton donor.