Tom Carnahan, President Obama’s top Missouri fundraiser, is now being hotly tipped to be his next ambassador to Ireland.
Irish American observers say Carnahan’s name has begun to circulate in White House circles as the next envoy to Ireland, replacing Dan Rooney who left 11 months ago. The 45-year-old and his wife Lisa have four daughters and live in St. Louis.
Carnahan, from a famous Missouri political family, raised over $500,000 for Obama and was among his top 50 bundlers.
Obama personally attended a fundraiser in Carnahan’s home in October 2011 when the minimum donation was $25,000.
His wind energy company also received $107 million in tax credits from the Obama administration in a controversial move as part of the economic stimulus package. The funding drew much negative comment from the GOP.
Ironically, Carnahan’s brother Russ, a former member of the House of Representatives, was said to be Obama’s first choice for the job but withdrew his name.
The Carnahan name is one of the most famous in Missouri politics. Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash in October 2000, was a former governor of Missouri and was elected posthumously to the U.S. Senate after the plane crash. His wife Jean became senator when she was appointed to her late husband’s seat.
Carnahan traces his Irish roots to Donegal and has been a frequent visitor to Ireland where he has discussed wind energy projects. An Irish company invested heavily in his wind energy business.
Their son Russ was a congressman, daughter Robin the Missouri secretary of state and son Tom was Obama’s biggest fundraiser in the state.
Tom Carnahan was chairman of the board of Wind Capital Group, a wind energy company based in St. Louis. He formerly was president and CEO of the company. Carnahan stepped down from Wind Capital in January 2012.
In 2012, Carnahan founded Wind Rose Energy Partners, an international clean energy investment partnership. Carnahan currently serves in an advisory capacity to the firm.
Obama’s fundraising with Carnahan after the stimulus money was heavily criticized by Republicans.
Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, said in a statement, “At a time when Barack Obama is under fire for steering hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funds to a failed company linked to a major campaign donor, it is stunning that he would come to Missouri and raise money with another recipient of stimulus cash.”
The lack of an ambassador to Ireland since Rooney’s departure has raised hackles in the Irish American community. Irish activist and top lawyer Brian O’Dwyer called it a “slap in the face,” to the Irish American community.
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