New Jerseyan Philip Murphy did not make a very good impression on his first day as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, according to a Congressional Quarterly report. Murphy, who was a top executive at Goldman Sachs and the Democratic National Committee Finance Chairman, apparently arrived in Berlin last month on a Gulfstream V jet just as the German press "was describing how top embassy posts in the Obama administration were going almost exclusively to wealthy campaign donors."
The "ostentatious top-of-the-line executive jet that left German Chancellor Angela Merkel grinding her teeth over President Obama's gift of ambassadorships to wealthy donors," the report said.
"The tin-eared arrival did not help improve U.S-German relations, which have reached ‘a nadir,' as one close observer put it, over the war in Afghanistan, the Obama administration's stimulus plan and the president's trip to Russia, which Merkel allegedly thought was a ‘disaster,'"
"It pissed off Merkel," said a former Clinton administration official, describing Murphy derisively as a "master of the universe."
CQ says Murphy and his wife contributed $1.2 million to political campaigns during his affiliation with Goldman Sachs, with 92% of that money going to the Democrats.
Obama nominated Murphy on July 9 and he was confirmed by the Senate on August 7. For comparison purposes, Obama nominated Paul Fishman as New Jersey's new U.S. Attorney on June 4. Five of the seven federal prosecutors nominated that day won Senate confirmation before they recessed in August, but Fishman, who was in the original group of Obama U.S. Attorney appointments, was not one of them.
Clifford Sobel, a former New Jersey Republican State Committee Finance Chairman, remains on holdover status as the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil while the U.S. Senate considers the nomination of career diplomat Tom Shannon as his replacement. Shannon served as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs during the Bush administration.
There is specualtion that Obama will announce his choice for Region 2 Adminisrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this month. The leading candidates appear to be Judith Enck, New York's Deputy Environment Secretary, or New York Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection Kathleen "Kit Kennedy, a former Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) official. Alan Steinberg, who headed the EPA Region 2 office in the Bush administration, left in January. He is now an unpaid columnist for PolitickerNJ.com.