Biden taps another Democratic mega-donor for ambassador position

The nominee currently serves as chair of the Harris County, Texas, Metropolitan Transit Authority.

President Joe Biden on Monday named Democratic mega-donor Carrin F. Patman as his nominee for ambassador to Iceland, seemingly continuing the trend of putting forward inexperienced donors into diplomatic positions.

Brett Bruen, a former U.S. diplomat and White House Global Engagement Director under President Barack Obama, warned that Biden is appointing "amateur diplomats" for important roles after Democratic donor Jane Hartley was nominated to be U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Patman currently serves as chair of the Harris County, Texas, Metropolitan Transit Authority. She previously was a partner of the international law firm Bracewell LLP. The Houston Chronicle reports that she is the daughter and granddaughter of Democratic politicians.

She told the Chronicle that she has picked up "just a little" Icelandic language since Biden made his announcement. 

"I do think being chair of Metro has prepared me for a diplomatic role," Patman joked to the outlet.

Data from the nonprofit Open Secrets shows that Patman has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic political causes. 

For example, her largest donations shown on the website were in 2018, when she gave $50,000 to "House Majority PAC," and 2020, when she gave $50,000 to the "New Leadership PAC."

In 2021, she gave the DNC Services Corporation, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee more than $35,000 each.

"It's really shocking that Biden has put forward so many with so little diplomatic experience," Bruen told The Guardian last month.

"In the past, when Hartley served, the stakes were not so high for an ambassador," he said. "But now, with the very credibility of our country on the line, with the confidence in our leadership at historic lows, we cannot be sending amateur diplomats abroad."

The Washington Post reports that almost 29% of Biden's diplomatic nominees have raised at least $100,000 for his presidential campaign.

The past year under Biden has been "dispiriting" for American diplomats, Bruen said, adding, "There is a real danger that many may soon quit, leaving huge gaps across our national security structure."