Obama may pick banker to be his man in London

Former Citigroup boss may be next UK ambassador

President Barack Obama is considering appointing his biggest Wall Street fundraiser to become ambassador to the UK, according to rumours circulating in Washington.

The job, traditionally seen as the most prestigious in American diplomacy, is likely to go to Louis Susman, a former executive at Citigroup, nicknamed “the vacuum cleaner” for his ability to suck up money from donors.

The new President, elected on a wave of popular revulsion against cronyism in Washington, warned earlier this month that at least some ambassadorial positions would be “political” appointments, although he had raised hopes that he would to break with the past and make more senior appointments from the diplomatic service.

Mr Susman would be replacing Robert Tuttle, who was sent to London by George Bush, for whom he raised $200,000 (£140,000). As one of Mr Obama’s most important fundraisers, Mr Susman has amassed more than $800,000. If appointed, the 71-year-old Wall Street veteran, who retired as vice-chairman of Citigroup Capital Markets on 1 February, would be handed the keys to the ambassador’s grace and favour mansion on 12 acres of Regent’s Park in London. The Washington Post first reported Mr Susman’s name, citing a source with knowledge of the negotiations. The appointment is “likely to happen” but is “not final”, the source said. Officials at the British Foreign Office and at Buckingham Palace will be consulted on the nomination, but it is understood that they have not yet been contacted.

Perhaps more importantly, the appointment must win the approval of the Senate, where several of Mr Obama’s cabinet picks have already been torpedoed. Mr Susman’s long career at Citigroup is likely to attract considerable controversy, since the bank has become a focus for popular outrage during the financial crisis. The bank is being kept alive thanks only to $45bn in US government aid, after having been brought to the brink of collapse by disastrous bets on risky mortgages.

Mr Obama’s pick for ambassador to the UK will face hearings before the Senate committee on foreign relations.

Louis Susman: Fundraising wizard

*If Louis Susman is handed the keys to Winfield House, the US ambassador’s luxurious London residence, it will be a reward that has been a long time coming. From Edward Kennedy’s bid to topple Jimmy Carter in 1980, to John Kerry’s 2004 campaign, which he joked sent his blood pressure soaring, Mr Susman has been the go-to guy for any Democratic candidate who wants a shot at the White House. But he hitched himself to the Obama bandwagon long before the rookie Chicago politician was seen as a serious contender for the highest office, and on Wall Street became the most powerful of the candidate’s “bundlers” – who gather individual donations by hosting fundraisers, pressing flesh and twisting arms. Smooth and charming, Mr Susman tapped into a vast network of contacts thanks to his background as Chicago lawyer, Wall Street banker and Democratic party grandee.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee