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Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Corrected version

GOP leader tapped as ambassador

Seattle Times Washington bureau

There always has been a small collection of "plum" ambassadorships that U.S. presidents of both parties save for their closest friends and reliable contributors: Paris, London, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Singapore.

Yesterday, President Bush rewarded Patricia Herbold, GOP donor and former chairwoman of the King County Republican Party, with the Singapore slot.

Herbold, of Bellevue, has earned recognition by the Republican National Committee and the White House for her political successes in the Seattle area, and the more than $100,000 she has contributed to the GOP in recent years.

"She revived the King County Republican Party two years ago," said its current executive director, Ross Marzolf. "It had been in about a decade of decline."

Though she did not deliver the state to Bush in last year's presidential race, "you have to look at it as a bigger picture," Marzolf said. She was a key factor in U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert's win last year in the 8th Congressional District, which includes Bellevue and Auburn, and Rob McKenna's victory as state attorney general, Marzolf said. The GOP had not held the attorney general's office in 12 years.

Before Herbold, "There was no fund raising. People had lost hope," Marzolf said. "She presented a new day."

But it was an earlier campaign in 1998 when Herbold came to prominence. She was co-chair of the Initiative 200 referendum to roll back affirmative-action laws, which won.

Her husband, Robert "Bob" Herbold, is also a player in GOP circles. He retired recently as chief operating officer of Microsoft and has been on White House technology task forces. He was urged to run for governor by state Republicans last year before Dino Rossi took on the challenge.

The Herbolds are both important GOP fund-raisers. Patricia Herbold is one of the founding members of The Club for Growth, a powerful national business coalition that supports changes in Social Security. That group collected more than $20 million for Republicans in 2004.

Herbold's own record is substantial. She has given more than $100,000 to GOP candidates and the state party since 1998, including $25,000 to the joint state victory committee last September.

She contributed more than $61,000 to individual candidates, including Bush. And she gave $17,000 to GOP committees in other states. She was on Bush's finance committee in 2000.

Robert Herbold has given nearly $20,000 since 1997; he also has been an active fund-raiser. He now consults with Microsoft on global education issues.

The president announced Patricia Herbold's nomination the day Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, came to Washington, D.C.

Singapore boasts a vibrant economy, but its political structure and climate have been castigated by conservatives and liberals. Loong is the son of Lee Kwan Yew, Singapore's authoritarian former ruler who now has the title of minister mentor. Members of his family hold key positions in corporations such as Singapore Telecom.

Herbold declined to comment on the nomination.

"The president always selects people who are qualified for those respective positions," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. "He has great confidence in her ability to fulfill her responsibility successfully."

Before coming to Washington state, Herbold practiced law with Taft, Stettinius & Hollister in Cincinnati and was mayor of Montgomery, Ohio. She met her husband in Ohio when he was an executive at Procter and Gamble. In 1997, she was appointed to the Washington State Gambling Commission, on which she served until January 2000.

The nomination is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The vote will likely occur after the August congressional recess.

Seattle Times researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report.

Alicia Mundy: 202-662-7457 or amundy@seattletimes.com

Information in this article, originally published July 13, 2005, was corrected July 13, 2005. In a previous version of this story, Ross Marzolf, the executive director of the King County Republican Party, was misidentified.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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