Bush Rewards Rangers and Pioneers with Recess Appointments

August 6, 2004

Bush Rewards Rangers and Pioneers with Recess Appointments

Four Major Fundraisers Named Ambassadors or Placed On Inter-American Foundation Board by the President Without Senate Confirmation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Throughout his first term in the White House, President Bush has consistently rewarded his biggest financial supporters with special favors, insider access and prized federal appointments at home and abroad. Last Friday, Bush quietly appointed major fundraisers as ambassadors to the Bahamas and Estonia as well as to two positions on the board of directors of the Inter-American Foundation.

The four “Rangers” and “Pioneers” – the honorary titles given to fundraisers who have collected at least $200,000 or $100,000, respectively, for Bush – were among 20 “recess appointments” announced by the president on July 30. By making these appointments while Congress is not in session, Bush bypasses the Senate confirmation process. All the appointees will serve until the end of 2005.

“This is business as usual for President Bush,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “Once again, the president has repaid his premier financial backers with plum appointments. And once again, the administration has skirted public and congressional oversight of its activities.”

According to an analysis by Public Citizen, nearly one of every five of Bush’s elite fundraisers in the 2004 or 2000 elections has received a presidential appointment. At least 173 Rangers and Pioneers (or their spouses) received appointments ranging from jobs in the executive branch to positions on federal advisory boards to spots on the Bush-Cheney transition team. This tally includes four Cabinet secretaries and 29 ambassadors.

For the 2004 campaign, there are 211 Rangers and 314 Pioneers so far. In the 2000 campaign, 550 fundraisers signed up to be Pioneers, and at least 241 of them reached their goal. WhiteHouseForSale.org, a Web site created by Public Citizen in cooperation with Texans for Public Justice to track contributors to the 2004 presidential campaigns, features a searchable database of the major fundraisers for Bush that provides brief biographies, lists any federal appointments, and identifies their employers, occupations, industries and home states.

The four Rangers and Pioneers newly appointed by Bush without Senate confirmation are:

  • John Rood as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas. A Ranger and 2000 Pioneer, Rood is the chairman of Florida’s Vestcor Companies, a real estate development and management firm that specializes in low-income housing projects. Rood is also a major fundraiser for the Florida Republican Party. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president’s brother, previously appointed Rood to the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which has been criticized for not protecting endangered species such as the Florida panther and manatee.
  • Aldona Wos as U.S. ambassador to Estonia. A retired physician who was born in Poland, Wos is a Ranger and co-chairwoman of Bush’s fundraising efforts in North Carolina. In 2002, Bush attended a fundraiser at Wos’ home in support of Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole. Wos’ husband, Louis DeJoy, is the CEO of New Breed Inc., a supply-chain management company with federal contracts to operate four U.S. postal equipment service centers. Bush previously appointed Wos, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
  • Roger W. Wallace as chairman of the board for the Inter-American Foundation. The IAF is a U.S. government agency that funds non-governmental and community-based development programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Wallace, a Ranger and 2000 Pioneer from Texas, headed the International Trade Administration as a deputy undersecretary in the Commerce Department under the first President Bush. Since then, he has been a lobbyist and consultant specializing in Latin American trade issues.
  • Jack Vaughn as a member of the IAF board of directors. Vaughn is vice president of Vaughn Petroleum Inc., a Texas company that develops oil fields. A 2000 Pioneer who isn’t listed among Bush’s top fundraisers for the current election cycle, Vaughn was previously appointed by Bush to serve on the Energy Department transition team.

With the 2004 Republican National Convention just a few weeks away, the Bush campaign has already raised $228 million – at least a third of which has been collected by the 525 Rangers and Pioneers. In addition, 69 “Super Rangers” have brought in at least $300,000 for the Republican National Committee on top of their contributions to the Bush campaign.

“The Ranger and Pioneer program is an enormous patronage system,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “The wealthy special interests backing the Bush campaign are anticipating even greater rewards if Bush triumphs in November.”

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