Being named the American ambassador to a foreign nation is generally considered a pretty plum job. It comes with prestige, cushy accommodations in an exotic foreign locale, and plentiful perks. Generally, the primary ways to land one of these sought-after positions is either through years of dedicated foreign service work as part of the State Department or, alternatively, making large campaign donations to the person currently occupying the White House who appoints the lucky individuals who represent our country overseas.
President Trump, perhaps as part of his campaign promise to create more jobs for Americans, has added another criterion that can help someone score a prized ambassadorship, membership at his exclusive Palm Beach Mar-A-Lago club. The Palm Beach Daily News revealed yesterday that President Trump has just decided to appoint the fourth member of his costly resort to an ambassadorship.
The newspaper announced that the next person named as ambassador to South Africa will not be anyone with an iota of diplomatic experience, but the couture handbag designer and Palm Beach resident Lana Marks.
She follows in the footsteps of fellow Mar-a-Lago member Robin Bernstein, a founding member of the resort club who was appointed ambassador to the Dominican Republic, and two members who declined their appointments: Philanthropist Patrick Park, who has said that he has hosted nearly 200 fundraisers at the club and turned down the opportunity to become ambassador to Austria due to family responsibilities, and Brian Burns, a major Trump donor and founding chairman of the Palm Beach Policeman’s Ball held annually at Mar-a-Lago, who declined a post as ambassador to Ireland on account of health problems.
According to The Palm Beach Daily News, Marks may have some difficulty in her confirmation hearings, despite her success at selling six-figure purses to celebrity clients and her South African heritage.
In more than a dozen past lawsuits against her in Aspen, New York, California and South Florida, Marks has repeatedly been accused of stiffing her attorneys, accountants, landlords and employees. She is also embroiled in bitter, international legal battles in South Africa and Israel with her siblings over a family trust and the care for their 89-year-old mother.
It sounds like she’ll fit right in with the scandal-plagued Trump administration, many of whom seem to have a penchant for draining government coffers for their personal enrichment and comfort.
So, a word of advice for anyone climbing the State Department diplomatic corps ladder with their eye on an ambassador’s position: take out a loan for the $214,000 it costs to become a member at Mar-a-Lago, and you’ll increase your chances of landing a prestigious ambassadorship by an exponential number. It’s a proven path.
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Original reporting by Christine Stapleton in The Palm Beach Daily News.