Republican fundraiser Kelly Knight Craft to be new U.S. ambassador to Canada
U.S. ambassador's office in Ottawa has been vacant since the departure of Bruce Heyman in January
Kelly Knight Craft will be nominated by U.S. President Donald Trump as the next ambassador to Canada, according to a statement from the White House.
The White House has reached out to officials at the Canadian embassy in Washington to make their intentions known.
Before appearing at a Senate committee in Ottawa Wednesday CBC asked David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., if he knew when Knight Craft would take up her new role.
"No, I mean obviously any ambassador has to be approved through their system, I don't know when that may or may not happen," he told CBC.
Knight Craft is married to American billionaire coal magnate Joe Craft. He's the president and CEO of Alliance Resource Partners L.P., the second-largest coal producer in the eastern United States, which operates 10 coal mine complexes in five states, according to the company's website.
"I deeply appreciate the President's confidence in me, and am looking forward to the Senate confirmation process," she said in an email to CBC.
The pair have collaborated on political fundraising and both support the University of Kentucky.
Knight Craft serves as a member of the university's board of trustees.
Knight Craft was appointed to the U.S. delegation at the UN in 2007 by former president George W. Bush, advising the U.S. ambassador on various issues, including U.S. engagement in Africa, according to her bio on the University of Kentucky's website.
She is also involved in charitable work, including the Salvation Army of Lexington, Ky.
Last June, Bloomberg reported that Trump promised he would keep two top Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, in their leadership posts — a key factor in the Crafts' decision to raise money for the then presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
"That is a big priority for Joe and I — and from talking directly to Donald Trump I know for a fact it is a big deal to him," Knight Craft told Bloomberg at the time. "He made that very clear."
The U.S. ambassador's office has been vacant since the departure of Bruce Heyman, who was named by former president Barack Obama. Heyman had offered to help Trump's transition team get up to speed on key issues on the Canada-U.S. file, but his offer was met with silence.
He resigned in January after the Trump transition team delivered a blanket mandate for all politically appointed ambassadors to leave their posts by inauguration day.
With files from Katie Simpson