Thursday, August 02, 2001

Indian Hill's Reynolds wins U.S. ambassador post

By Derrick DePledge
Enquirer Washington Bureau

        WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Mercer Reynolds III of Indian Hill as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

        His nomination was approved unanimously in a voice vote.

        A close friend and former business partner of President Bush, Mr. Reynolds and his investment partner, William O. DeWitt Jr., were instrumental fund-raisers for Mr. Bush during the presidential campaign and the inaugural.

        Switzerland is a world financial and diplomatic center known for its neutrality. The country has four official languages — German, French, Italian and Romansch — and a population of 7.2 million. Liechtenstein shares a postal, customs and monetary union with the Swiss.

        In testimony on his nomination before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Reynolds said the Swiss, “while adhering to their proud tradition of neutrality, have become a society moving toward European center field by assuming increased international responsibility.”

        In Ohio, Mr. Reynolds helped Mr. Bush raise more than $2.2 million and build a financial cushion over Vice President Al Gore, who raised $494,800. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. DeWitt co-chaired the presidential inaugural committee, which raised more than $40 million for parties and special events.

        According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit group that tracks campaign finance, Mr. Reynolds contributed more than $200,000 to Republican causes during the 2000 election cycle and his wife and immediate family gave $142,500. Mr. Reynolds also donated $100,000 toward the inaugural and $5,000 to the Bush campaign's Florida recount fund.

        Presidents often reward friends, political allies and top campaign contributors with plum ambassadorships, reserving some of the more difficult foreign assignments for career diplomats.

        President Carter sent the most recent ambassador from Cincinnati, Marvin Warner, to Switzerland. Mr. Warner later served time in state prison for his role in the collapse of Home State Savings Bank in the mid-1980s. He now lives in Florida.


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