“There was always a country club mentality with this,” said Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan group investigating government ethics.
The difference now is that the president also is the country club’s proprietor, and has handed out foreign postings and other government jobs to his paying customers.
Lana Marks, a luxury handbag designer Trump nominated last year as ambassador to South Africa, grew up in that country, but moved away more than four decades ago. She has spent most of her career building a business around bags that can cost $10,000 or more.
Marks declined to answer questions about her nomination, her qualifications or her membership in Mar-a-Lago, a short drive from her Palm Beach home. Instead, she said she was “honored that I can use my knowledge of the people and culture of South Africa to serve the United States.”