Here Are All the US Ambassador Nominees the Senate Left in Limbo

By Charles S. Clark

December 19, 2014

The Senate’s last-minute flurry of ambassadorial confirmations was no doubt better than gridlock for the American Foreign Service Association. That union has long complained of extended vacancies in key overseas posts due to Senate internal politics, and earlier this year took a rare position criticizing the Obama administration for nominating too many campaign donors with questionable expertise in the host nation.

In December, the Senate approved 14 ambassadors—among them envoys to Afghanistan and India—along with three key State Department leaders, including the new Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

But according to AFSA’s tally, that still left 12 ambassador nominees hanging after months in limbo, along with four candidates for senior State positions. (Hotel executive and Obama campaign donor George Tsunis, who waited 462 days with hope of being ambassador to Norway, told Newsday this month he is withdrawing.)

Here are those in limbo, along with their time in line:

Nominee Position Date Nominated Days Waiting Home State FSO or Appointee
John Estrada Trinidad and Tobago 07/31/13 504 FL Political (*)
George Tsunis Norway 09/11/13 462 NY Political (*)
Cassandra Butts Bahamas 02/10/14 308 DC Political (*)
S. Fitzgerald Haney Costa Rica 07/09/14 161 NJ Political (*)
Charles C. Adams, Jr. Finland 07/17/14 153 MD Political (*)
Perry Holloway Guyana 07/28/14 142 SC Career
Mari Carmen Aponte OAS 07/31/14 139 DC Political
Sheila Gwaltney Kyrgyz Republic  09/08/14 100 CA Career
Nancy Pettit Latvia 09/08/14 100 VA Career
Paul A. Folmsbee Mali 09/19/14 89 OK Career
Mary Catherine Phee South Sudan 09/19/14 89 CA Political
Maria Echaveste Mexico 09/19/14 89 CA Political
Azita Raji Sweden 11/12/14 35 CA Political
Other Senior Officials Awaiting Confirmation
Nominee Position Date Nominated Days Waiting Home State Career FSO or Political Appointee
Gentry O. Smith Dir. Ofc of Foreign Missions 05/05/14 226 NC Career
Jennifer Haverkamp A/S Oceans Env't/Science 09/08/14 100 IN Political
Michele Thoren Bond A/S Consular Affairs 09/10/14 98 DC Career
Brian James Egan Legal Adviser, State Dept. 09/19/14 89 MD Political

Those noted with an asterisk (*) have had their SFRC nomination hearing.

By Charles S. Clark // Charles S. Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books, and organizational media strategies.

December 19, 2014