Trump rewards cronies with prestigious government appointments

Trump rewards cronies with prestigious government appointments
Kellyanne Conway, Counselor and Assistant to President Donald J. Trump, speaks with reporters on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, along the driveway outside the West Wing entrance of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Donald Trump is rewarding more than two dozen current and former administration officials and others with prestigious government appointments on his way out of office – including his current Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, his former campaign manager and Senior Counselor, Kellyanne Conway, and campaign surrogate, lobbyist Matt Schlapp.

Also on the list, a billionaire hotelier reportedly linked to "a possible pay-for-play scheme" with the RNC.

The nominations, announced Tuesday, appear to mirror reports that say the president is preparing a flood of pardons, even to people who have never asked for them, merely because he can.

Trump nominated Kellyanne Conway to the Board of Visitors to the United States Air Force Academy. The Board acts as a board of governors, and "inquires into the morale, discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods and other matters relating to the Academy which the Board decides to consider."

Conway, according to the Office of Special Counsel, has broken federal law so frequently she was recommended for "removal" from her White House position by the federal watchdog agency. Trump ignored the recommendation.

Trump nominated Secretary Elaine Chao to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The appointment carries a six-year term.

Also nominated to the Kennedy Center is Lynn Friess, wife of major Republican donor Foster Friess.

Lobbyist Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union, which operates the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), was nominated by Trump to be a Member of the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board. According to Bloomberg the LoC Trust Fund Board "operates as a federal board governing funds donated to the Library of Congress. The Board deposits the incoming money with the Secretary of the Treasury and the librarian of the Library of Congress may distribute the money. LoC Trust Fund Board holds the power to invest, reinvest, and retain investments as well."

Schlapp's wife, Mercedes Schlapp, was a White House communications official who left to work for the Trump campaign. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Also on today's list, billionaire hotelier, real estate developer, GOP donor, and failed ambassador nominee Douglas "Papa Doug" Manchester. Manchester was nominated to the Kennedy Center Board as well. A scathing January 2020 article detailed his lavish lifestyle and divorces, including from a Russian immigrant. That article suggested she had "a profile on a website for seekers of Russian brides."

Last year CBS News "uncovered a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee and President Trump's nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas. Emails obtained by CBS News show the nominee, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, was asked by the RNC to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance."

There are 26 nominations in total, just today.

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