Trump Names Mar-a-Lago Member With "Basic Spanish" Dominican Republic Ambassador

Robin Bernstein has been a staple on Palm Beach's swanky political scene for decades and, despite starting out as a Democratic consultant, rose to become a major GOP operative, a Mar-a-Lago member, and a longtime Donald Trump pal. Now she's been nominated to represent the U.S. as ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

There's only one nagging little detail: Though she's fluent in French, Berstein has only "basic Spanish" skills. ¡Qué mierda!

Critics wasted little time laughing at that detail, which suggests Bernstein's deep loyalty to the president — including her fighting back actual tears of joy while casting one of Florida's 29 electoral votes for him — led to the ambassador nod rather than any real credentials that would help in Santo Domingo.

"In my experience, everyone who claims 'basic Spanish' actually knows zero practical Spanish," one Twitter user joked.
Bernstein has been a political player in Palm Beach dating to the early '80s, when she moved to South Florida after a gig as an economist in President Jimmy Carter's administration and helped with a county commissioner's campaign. She cut her teeth on Democratic campaigns, including Bob Graham's gubernatorial run, but jumped ship to the GOP after falling out with party leaders, some of whom called her a "traitor."

She later married Richard Bernstein, an über-wealthy insurance and estate advising guru, and became a charter member of the Mar-a-Lago Club, where she became good friends with Trump. Her views also shifted far to the right. In 2010, she was one of an incongruous number of Jewish locals who turned up to hear Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate whose father was a notorious anti-Semite and who herself has denied France has any culpability in the Holocaust

“She can’t be held responsible for what her father did,” Bernstein told the Palm Beach Post at the time. “I’m not going to write a check, but I’d like to listen to what she has to say.”

When Trump jumped into the presidential race, Bernstein embraced him even as he raged against immigrants, called Mexicans "rapists," and was accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault and harassment after the "grab 'em by the pussy" tape leaked.

"He's very committed to diversity — Mar-a-Lago Club has blacks, Jews, Muslims... I'm very, very proud of that, and Donald has always been that way," Bernstein insisted during the GOP convention. "People don't see that." 

After Trump's win in November, Bernstein was besieged by phone calls and letters urging her not to cast her official elector's ballot for the man who won Florida's popular vote. She tearfully resisted those pleas.

"It was really emotional because I have such a longstanding relationship with Donald. It's personal. It was very personal for me. I know he's going to be one of our greatest presidents. I just know it," Bernstein told the Post.

Now she's set to reap the rewards for her loyalty if she's confirmed as ambassador. To be fair to Bernstein, she's no language dummy. She studied linguistics at American University and speaks French and Russian fluently. And ambassadorships are often used as political rewards, given to fundraisers who know little of the local language.

But still, that kind of pick makes more sense when choosing an ambassador for, say, Romania or Bulgaria, where the pool of candidates with the native language skills is much smaller.

Trump really didn't have a candidate who speaks Spanish for the Dominican Republic job? ¿Estás loco?
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink