U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson to join BMO in October as vice-chairman - Macleans.ca

U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson to join BMO in October as vice-chairman


WASHINGTON – David Jacobson is leaving his post as U.S. ambassador to Canada in July to become vice-chairman of one of Canada’s largest banking groups.

Jacobson is joining the board of directors of BMO Financial Group (TSX:BMO) in October. He’ll be based in Chicago, his hometown, where BMO’s main U.S. operations are headquartered.

Jacobson, U.S. envoy for four years, is a Windy City lawyer who worked as a major fundraiser for Barack Obama as the junior Illinois senator ran for president in 2008. Jacobson arrived in Ottawa in October 2009 after the U.S. Senate signed off on his nomination.

While a new U.S. ambassador has yet to be officially announced, another top Obama fundraiser — Bruce Heyman, also from Chicago — is the reported front-runner.

Public records show that Heyman, a partner at investment firm Goldman Sachs, and his wife, Vicki, have been donating to Obama since 2007. They are what’s known as “mega-bundlers” in American political parlance — in other word, top fundraisers.

Both Heymans served on Obama’s National Finance Committee in 2012, helping to raise millions for his re-election campaign. The Chicago Tribune described Vicki Heyman as among the “local workhorses of the campaign … regularly at Obama headquarters” in a report last July.

The Heymans were in attendance for a Rose Garden dinner for German Chancellor Angela Merkel in June 2011.

Heyman has been with Goldman Sachs since 1980. For 12 years, he’s helmed the firm’s Midwest private wealth-management group, covering 13 states and the western half of Canada.

Heyman has publicly praised the president, an uncommon practice among Goldman Sachs executives. While the company was a big Obama donor in 2008, executives were angered by what they perceived as regulatory attacks from the White House and personal attacks on their character, and donated instead to Mitt Romney and the Republican party in 2012.

“I am sensitive to the emotions” of Wall Street, Heyman told the Wall Street Journal last year.

“But if you look at the facts, Mr. Obama is pro-business.”

In a statement Tuesday announcing his departure, Jacobson said he’d “treasure this experience forever.”

He added he was “profoundly grateful” to Obama for appointing him to the job, and thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper for allowing him to “make a difference for our two countries.”

Jacobson also praised “the kindness, the graciousness, and the generosity of spirit for which Canadians are famous.”

Bill Downe, BMO president and chief executive, said Jacobson’s “deep knowledge” of Canada-U.S. relations make him particularly qualified for the role.

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