President Donald Trump has appointed handbag designer Lana Marks, a member of his Florida golf club, as the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa — despite the fact that she has no diplomatic or political experience. In a statement announcing the decision, the White House noted that Marks was a South African native who “speaks Afrikaans and Xhosa” and “served on the Women’s Leadership Board at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Women’s International Forum for more than a decade.” The position of ambassador to South Africa had been left unfilled for newly two years prior to Marks’ appointment.
Marks, who founded her eponymous luxury handbag company in 1984, is best known for making leather bags from exotic African animals such as ostriches and alligators. The socialite has previously touted herself as a close friend of the late Princess Diana, and, much like Donald Trump himself, has also been accused of questionable tax practices and refusing to pay contractors after they completed their work, according to a report from The Palm Beast Post. On social media, many users panned the decision to name her as ambassador, suggesting that her best qualification appears to have been the fact that she is a member at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. In 2012, Marks’ daughter was married at the golf club in a 300-person wedding that included “pyrotechnics, two cocktail receptions, a six-tiered wedding cake in six different hues and an ice sculpture inlaid with the Tiffany-blue initials of the new couple — all orchestrated by the detail-conscious mother of the bride,” reported The Palm Beach Daily News.
A handbag designer and Mar-A-Lago member? Does she have experience, a degree, or fluent in a couple of languages? So many good intellectuals and politicians out there and he decided to lower the bar even more? Hum
— A. L. H. R. (@AnaRodr08845291) November 15, 2018
But as at least one user observed, Trump does have some precedent for naming apparently unqualified fashion designers to important government jobs — as his daughter Ivanka can personally attest.
This should not be a shock as he also picked another unexperienced handbag designer as a senior advisor. Cc: @IvankaTrump
— Jack! Jack? Jack. (@groovatron2000) November 15, 2018
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