President Donald Trump’s former nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas, Doug Manchester, may have been involved a potential pay-to-play scheme earlier this year when his confirmation was stalled in the Senate, CBS News reports.
The CBS News investigation published Monday cited a September email exchange in which Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel asked Manchester, a past Trump donor, for a hefty contribution. At that point in time, Manchester’s nomination had been languishing in the Senate for nearly two and a half years.
“Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?” McDaniel asked.
“As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000,” Manchester replied. “Assuming I get voted out of the [Senate 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!”
McDaniel’s request came just three days after Trump publicly thanked Manchester for taking supplies to the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. Manchester, a billionaire San Diego real estate developer who owns a home in the Caribbean country, flew there on his private jet.
In his Sept. 7 tweet, Trump thanked “‘Papa’ Doug,” as he likes to be called, “for the incredible amount of time, money and passion he has spent on helping to bring safety to the Bahamas.” The president described Manchester as “hopefully the next Ambassador to the Bahamas.”
At the end of October, Manchester withdrew his name for consideration, vaguely citing “politics” as the reason, The Nassau Guardian reported.
His development firm, Manchester Financial Group, told the outlet that he pulled out “due to the threats on his and his family’s lives including three infant children under four years old.”
Manchester stuck to his initial explanation while speaking to CBS News’ Jim Axelrod. “Politics is politics,” he said.
Asked whether he felt he had been pressured for money by McDaniel, Manchester told Axelrod that he didn’t.
“That’s part of politics,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. You give and you give and you give and you give some more and more and more.”
Manchester added that he didn’t believe an RNC contribution would have helped move his confirmation along, emphasizing that his wife’s donation was separate and that “she in fact loves Donald Trump.”
An RNC spokesperson told CBS News that McDaniel made no suggestion that a major contribution would help Manchester get confirmed and that the party has severed ties with him and returned the funds donated this year by his family.