Report finds ambassador caused 'dysfunction' at embassy in Luxembourg

What makes a president turn his back on one of his biggest donors and allow her to resign from a plum diplomatic post she was offered in return for her generosity?

According to a State Department report on outgoing Luxembourg Ambassador Cynthia Stroum, an "abusive management style" and the purchase of $3,400 in wine and liquor using embassy funds, for starters.

Stroum -- who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats and bundled more than $500,000 for Obama's 2008 campaign -- spent just over a year in her post as ambassador before abruptly resigning effective January 31. According to reports in the Luxembourg media, she wanted to spend more time with her family and on her business in Seattle. She was nominated to the post in September 2009 as a reward for her financial prowess during the campaign, and was sworn in that December.

A report released Thursday by the State Department Office of Inspector General found her behavior to have left the embassy in a "state of dysfunction."

"Morale among Americans and local staff is very low, and stress levels are high. Most employees describe the Ambassador as aggressive, bullying, hostile, and intimidating, which has resulted in an extremely difficult, unhappy, and uncertain work environment," the report said.

Things were so bad, according to the report, that most of the senior staff in the embassy either curtailed their stays or volunteered for service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And in order to use up funding before it expired at the end of fiscal 2010, the embassy reportedly bulk purchased $3,400 in wine and liquor on September 29, which is strictly forbidden because it was not a bona fide need for the fiscal year.

In a search for temporary housing while the ambassador's residence was undergoing renovation, a procurement/housing employee was forced to screen 200 residences and visit 30-40 houses and apartments in Luxembourg with the help of two staff members from the U.S. embassy in Brussels. "The end-of-year procurements consumed virtually all of the procurement/housing employee's time as well as that of the management officer," the report said.

And as a result of "internal problems" like these, the embassy now "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," the report said.

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