It’s surprisingly difficult to count all of the controversies surrounding Donald Trump’s’ Mar-a-Lago golf resort in south Florida. Do we start with the ethical mess? The hidden visitor logs? The security lapses? The cost to taxpayers? The H-2 visa hires?
Or how about the fact that the president keeps giving jobs to his customers?
This first arose as an issue last fall, when the Palm Beach Post reported that couture handbag designer Lana Marks, a Mar-a-Lago member, was Trump’s choice to serve as ambassador to South Africa. The same article noted some other club members who were also offered diplomatic posts in the Trump administration.
USA Today published a related report today taking stock of just how many of the president’s customers have also been beneficiaries of jobs on his team.
Membership rolls of Trump’s clubs are not public. USA TODAY identified members through interviews, news accounts and a website golfers use to track their handicaps.
Since he took office, Trump has appointed at least eight people who identified themselves as current or former members of his club to senior posts in his administration. USA TODAY identified five of those appointees in mid-2017, prompting criticism from ethics watchdogs that the selections blurred the boundary between his public duties and his private financial interests.
That does not appear to include at least two other Trump customers who were offered ambassadorships, but who declined the nominations.
It also doesn’t include the Mar-a-Lago members Trump allowed to informally help oversee the Department of Veterans Affairs, without any oversight or relevant experience.
Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told USA Today, “You have to question whether these members of his clubs are getting these appointments because they deserve them or because they’re his paying customers. You get into really bad territory when people start wondering if the president has put the government up for sale.”
Yes, you really do.