Report: The Republican National Committee Tried To Sell Ambassadorship For $500K
President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas and the Republican National Committee may have attempted a pay-for-play scheme as the nominee struggled through his confirmation process, according to a CBS News investigation.
The news outlet reported that the RNC asked San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation was stalled in the Senate.
CBS News chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod reported that Manchester, who owns a home in the Bahamas, took supplies to the Caribbean in September after Hurricane Dorian devastated the area — and Trump took note of his actions on Twitter.
"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,” the president tweeted.
Just three days later, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel emailed the billionaire asking for a donation of $500,000, writing: "Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?"
Manchester told Axelrod that he did not feel the contribution request was linked to his confirmation process, saying, "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.”
But along with the suspicious timing of McDaniel’s email request was Manchester’s response.
"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.
In a statement to CBS News, the RNC said, "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," the statement added.
Former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, retired Senator Bob Corker, said that the email exchange appeared problematic.
"The timing of that request obviously was not appropriate,” he said. Corker was also responsible for holding up Manchester’s confirmation, over “concerns about judgment, about demeanor, about just the whole reason for taking the job,” he said.
"I can only tell you that if I received an email like that, there would have been a five-bell alarm that went off,” Corker added.
Manchester’s actions ended up costing him any chance of getting pushed through the Senate, however. He copied staffers of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Idaho Senator Jim Risch on the email to McDaniel.
According to CBS News, Risch alerted the White House to the emails, which in turn asked Manchester to withdraw his nomination. He did.