As a supporter of presidential candidate Barack Obama, Cynthia Stroum was a superstar whose financial backing of the campaign landed her a plum diplomatic posting in Europe.
As America's ambassador to Luxembourg, the wealthy Seattle-based businesswoman was a disaster.
According to an internal State Department report released Thursday, less than a week after she quit, Stroum's management of the U.S. Embassy in the tiny country was abysmal. The report says her tenure of about one year was fraught with personality conflicts, verbal abuse and questionable expenditures on travel, wine and liquor.
Stroum's case illustrates the pitfalls that presidents can face when they appoint non-career diplomats to ambassadorships as a reward for their political support.
The Luxembourg embassy "has underperformed for the entirety of the current ambassador's tenure," said the report, which was prepared last fall before she resigned abruptly. "At present, due to internal problems, it plays no significant role in policy advocacy or reporting, though developments in Luxembourg are certainly of interest to Washington clients and other U.S. missions in the NATO and EU communities." (Continues here)