San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester wanted to be an ambassador. Not only did he want the job, but he also wanted a plum assignment – the Bahamas. As he waited for his Senate confirmation hearings, he got this unpleasant surprise.
Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) may have been involved in a pay-for-play scheme, according to CBS News. Emails requested by CBS News indicated that both the president and the RNC asked Manchester to donate $500,000 as his appointment hung in the balance.
Manchester wanted to help the commonwealth after Hurricane Dorian sat over the 700 islands and destroyed nearly everything in sight. The real estate developer likes to go by a nickname “Papa Doug,” and he filled his private jet with supplies for the Caribbean country.
The man, who also owned a home in the Bahamas, was a Trump supporter and even contributed one million dollars to the president’s inauguration fund. That appeared to be the going rate for ambassadors in the Trump reign of power, because that was when the White House offered him the Bahamas.
Manchester noted that POTUS told him:
‘I should probably be the ambassador to the Bahamas and you should be president.’
Yet, Manchester’s nomination did not make it out of the Senate. So, when he took his private jet and supplies to the Bahamas after the hurricane, Trump noticed. He tweeted:
‘I would also like to thank ‘Papa’ Doug Manchester, hopefully the next Ambassador to the Bahamas, for the incredible amount of time, money and passion he has spent on helping to bring safety to the Bahamas.’
Just three days later, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel hit the developer up for $500,000. She emailed him:
‘Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?’
Normally, about one-third of the ambassadors have been political appointees, but under Trump, that number was more like 50 percent. CBS’ investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod asked Manchester:
‘Did you feel like they were putting the arm on you?’
The real estate developer replied:
‘No, I didn’t. That’s part of politics. It’s unbelievable. You give and you give and you give and you give some more and more and more.’
Then, the correspondent asked:
‘Does any part of you feel if you had just cut the check for $500,000 that you would be the ambassador to the Bahamas?’
‘No, because first of all, you have to get out of committee and you have to be voted on the floor. It’s a big process.’
The billionaire wrote back to McDaniel about her request for the contribution:
‘As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!’
Then, the journalist said:
‘You know what this looks like.’
‘Well — it looks like it to you. But it’s not the facts. My wife gave out of separate funds and she in fact loves Donald Trump.’
The spokesperson for the Republican National Committee released a statement that read:
‘The Chairwoman did not suggest to Mr. Manchester in any way that it would more quickly advance his confirmation if members of his family made a political contribution. Mr. Manchester’s decision to link future contributions to an official action was totally inappropriate.’
Former Ambassador Barbara Stephenson has been an ambassador for over 30 years, and she commented that even though she served leadership in both parties, she never met a nominee who had to trade a donation for confirmation. She said:
‘It is a serious erosion of the concept that my country doesn’t sell public office. It’s hard to believe that we’re fully upholding our law, and our values and being a city on a hill that I always represented.’
U.S. ambassador to France Jamie McCourt and ambassador to England Woody Johnson have donated thousands to Trump’s reelection fund. Before the European Union (EU) Ambassador Gordon Sondland was nominated to his positiion, he donated one million dollars to the Trump inauguration. Sondland has been tied to the Ukrainian scandal.
Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Robin Bernstein and Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks have been members of the president’s Mar-a-Lago club. The cost to join was $200,000.
Former Senator Bob Corker headed up the Foreign Relations Committee before he left in January had this to say about Manchester’s nomination:
‘We had concerns about judgment, about demeanor, about just the whole reason for taking the job. The timing of that request (request for the donation) obviously was not appropriate.’
Where Manchester made his mistake, Corker said, was sending a copy to Kentucky’s Senator Rand Paul and Idaho’s Senator Jim Risch. He was telling them that he would willingly donate more. Corker continued:
“I can only tell you that if I received an email like that, there would have been a five-bell alarm that went off.’
It did. Risch told the White House about Manchester’s email, and the president’s administration then asked Manchester to withdraw.
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.