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POLITICS: White House

Obama picks campaign bundler, White House decorator’s partner, as ambassador to Spain

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,White House,Joel Gehrke,Barack Obama,Campaign Finance,Spain

President Obama intends to nominate HBO vice president James Costos, a top campaign bundler, as the new ambassador to Spain, the White House Press Office announced today.

Costos heads the Global Licensing and Retail division at HBO. “The choice of Costos for an ambassadorship would put a high-profile gay couple in a key post,” The Hollywood Reporter noted in May.  “His partner, White House decorator Michael Smith, previously was said to be interested in a diplomatic post. Smith’s spokesman adamantly denied that chatter. The couple co-hosted key Obama fundraisers in L.A. and New York.”

Tickets for the March 1, 2012 fundraiser at their New York home started at $10,000 a piece for the dessert reception, according to pool reports from the event. Costos and Smith raised over $500,000 for the Obama campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

During the fundraiser, Obama joked that “it’s good to come to [Smith's] home and critique” after the disagreements they’ve had about White House decor, according to the pooler.

The announcement coincides with LGBT Pride Month and comes the day after an LGBT Pride reception at the White House. “The genius of America is that America can change,” Obama said at the reception. “And people who love this country can change it.  That’s what we’re called to do.  And I hope that when we gather here next year, and the year after that, we’ll be able to say, with pride and confidence, that together we’ve made our fellow citizens a little more free.  We’ve made this country a little more equal.  We’ve made our world a little more full of love.”

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