President Trump has repeatedly given ambassadorships and other government positions to members of his golf clubs, including his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago. Presidents frequently award postings to friends and political allies, the difference for President Trump is that the members of his clubs are also his paying customers. Membership rolls at Trump’s clubs are not public information, but USA Today identified at least eight people who confirmed they were current or former members of his club and now hold senior posts in the administration.
Ambassadors for Romania, South Africa, Dominican Republic, and Hungary were, or are currently, all members of one of Trump’s clubs. “There was always a country club mentality with some of this,” said Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan group that investigates government ethics. But Trump’s mixing of business and politics has blurred the boundary between his public duties and his private financial interests, according to ethics watchdogs. However, federal law does not prohibit the president from nominating customers. And neither government ethics lawyers nor lawmakers are required to question whether nominated members of the administration have business relationships with the president.