(This post was updated at 3:30 p.m. 1/7/2014 to name and background for another nominee.)
As lawmakers return for the second session of the 113th Congress, one of President Barack Obama's first orders of business is trying to convince the Senate to let him repay some political IOUs.
Among a list of nominations the president sent the Senate on Monday are five would-be ambassadors who didn't get a vote before Congress left town for the holidays. All are major underwriters of Democratic candidates and causes and, according to a list compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, bundlers for the Obama campaign.
- Rob Barber, a Massachusetts attorney nominated to represent the United States in Iceland, has donated more than $80,000 to Democratic campaigns, according to records compiled on Influence Explorer from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in Politics. Political Party Time shows that Barber helped host a fundraiser last year for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
- Colleen Bell, a Hollywood soap opera producer whom Obama has tapped to be ambassador to Hungary, has donated more than $293,000. Her husband, fellow "The Bold and the Beautiful" producer Bradley Bell, was an especially enthusiastic funder of the Obama campaign. The couple also hosted a star-studded fundraiser for the president at their home during the last campaign, PT records reveal.
- Timothy Broas, nominated to serve as ambassador to the Netherlands, has donated more than $183,000 to Democrats in addition to showing up in Party Time as a fundraising host. As USA TODAY has reported, Obama is giving Broas a second chance at a job the DC "super lawyer" opted out of in 2012 after a drunk driving arrest.
- Dwight Bush, a DC investment banker who hopes to take over the embassy in Morocco, has, together with his son, Dwight Bush Jr., made more than $140,000 in campaign contributions. With a few strategic exceptions that money went almost entirely to Democrats.
- Mark Gilbert, a former baseball player turned investment banker, has donated nearly $436,000 to Democratic candidates and causes. Perhaps endearing him still further to Obama, Gilbert used to play outfield for the president's beloved White Sox. That makes him a rarity among members of the First Fan's favorite team, most of whom prefer Republicans.
One notable omission from the sugar-plummy list Obama sent to Capitol Hill may be the biggest plum of all: The president has yet to name a replacement for Charles Rivkin, another big donor who quit his post as ambassador to France in November. The vacancy has not gone unnoticed in Paris, where speculation is centering on a diversity pick: a woman, but a woman donor, such as Jane Hartley or Jane Watson Stetson, whose grandfather founded IBM.