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Monday, December 09, 2019

Pay To Play? GOP Solicited $500K From Ambassador Nominee

The Republican National Committee attempted to secure a $500,000 donation from billionaire Doug Manchester as his name was in front of the Senate awaiting a confirmation vote for an ambassadorship.

Manchester donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund and was offered the position of ambassador to Bahamas on the second day of Trump’s presidency.

CBS News reported on Monday that in September RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel sent Manchester the solicitation as part of what the outlet described as “a possible pay-for-play scheme.”

“Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?” she wrote.

At the time her email was sent, Manchester’s nomination was still being considered by the Senate. Three days before McDaniel contacted him, Trump tweeted about the stalled nomination.

“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,” he wrote, referencing Manchester’s role in assisting aid to the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian struck the country.

Manchester’s reply to McDaniel gave the impression that he saw a connection between his money and his nomination.

“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!” he wrote.

When he was confronted by CBS with the document, Manchester denied that there was a pay-for-play implied.

The RNC distanced themselves from the exchange as well.

“Mr. Manchester’s decision to link future contributions to an official action was totally inappropriate,” they told CBS, and said they had returned money donated previously this year from the Manchester family.

Manchester’s nomination was pulled by the Trump administration after he copied staffers for Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jim Risch (R-ID), who both lead committees considering his nomination.

“Risch alerted the White House, which then asked Manchester to withdraw,” CBS reported.

The email from McDaniel was criticized by former Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).

“The timing of that request obviously was not appropriate,” he told CBS.

Corker also said he had concerns about Manchester’s nomination, which was under consideration when he was still in the Senate. He noted that, with Manchester, “we had concerns about judgment, about demeanor, about just the whole reason for taking the job.”

It is not the first controversy stemming from Trump’s inauguration. A top fundraiser for the event is under federal investigation, and key figures like Ivanka Trump have been connected to efforts to profit from it.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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