Another charity announced that it was cancelling plans to hold a gala at US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club – the ninth to cancel a big-ticket charity event at the club this week.
The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, a charity focused on the ritzy island’s architectural landmarks, had planned to hold a dinner dance at Mar-a-Lago next March. The foundation was a new customer for Trump’s club, and a potentially lucrative one: It spent $US244,000 ($308,000) on rent and food on a previous gala at another site, according to tax filings.
But on Saturday, US time, the foundation said it would find another venue.
"Given the current environment surrounding Mar-a-Lago, we have made the decision to move our annual dinner dance," the foundation’s executive director, Amanda Skier, said.
That decision meant that Mr Trump’s club had lost nine of the 16 galas or dinner events that it had been scheduled to host during next winter’s social "season" in Palm Beach. At least two other groups have also cancelled charity luncheons there this week.
Those losses could reduce the club’s revenue by hundreds of thousands of dollars by each event, and deny Mr Trump his dual role as president and host to the island’s partying elite. If he returns to the club for weekends next winter, the president could often find its grand ballrooms quiet and empty.
These cancellations all followed Mr Trump’s remarks on the march of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which the president said the protesters, who gathered under the pretense of wanting to preserve a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, included some "fine people".
On Friday, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and Susan G. Komen joined the growing exodus of organisations cancelling plans to hold fundraising events at the club.
SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link Donald Trump’s Mar-A Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: The New York Times
Susan G. Komen, the US’s largest breast cancer fundraising group, said it would seek another venue after hosting its "Perfect Pink Party" gala at Mar-a-Lago every year since 2011.
The Salvation Army, which has held a gala at the club every year since 2014, said in a statement that it would not hold its event there "because the conversation has shifted away" from its mission of helping those in need.
SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump arrive for a New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago. Photo: AP
And the American Red Cross said it would cancel its annual fundraiser at the club because "it has increasingly become a source of controversy and pain for many of our volunteers, employees and supporters," the charity said in a statement.
In a letter to staff Friday, chief executive Gail McGovern said, "The Red Cross provides assistance without discrimination to all people in need – regardless of nationality, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or political opinions – and we must be clear and unequivocal in our defense of that principle."
SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link Donald Trump in the White and Gold Ballroom at The Mar-A-Lago Club during his presidential campaign. Photo: AP
Trump’s club earned between $US100,000 and $US275,000 each from similar-sized events in the past.
But the cancellations also reveal a widening vulnerability for Mr Trump, who, unlike past presidents, refused to divest from his business interests when he joined the White House.
The Trump Organisation has not responded to requests for comment.
The charitable groups join three other large event cancellations from Thursday: the Cleveland Clinic, the American Friends of Magen David Adom and the American Cancer Society, which cited its "values and commitment to diversity" in its decision to abandon the club.
Some of the club’s most notable local boosters, with long fundraising histories and deep Palm Beach roots, were also in outright rebellion Friday against the club. Lois Pope, a Mar-a-Lago member and philanthropist who heads the Lois Pope Life Foundation and Leaders In Furthering Education, said she had told her foundation’s board to move its well-known December gala from the club.
"The hatred, vitriol and anti-Semitic and racist views being spewed by neo-Nazis and white supremacists are repugnant and repulsive," Pope wrote in a statement. "And anyone who would demonstrate even a modicum of support for them by insisting that there are ‘good people’ among them is not deserving of my personal patronage or that of my foundations."
One of the cancellations cut close to home for the Trumps. Big Dog Ranch Rescue said Friday it would no longer hold an upcoming event at the club and would instead move it to the group’s facility nearby. Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, was scheduled to co-chair the event.
The Autism Project of Palm Beach County also said Friday that it is not planning on hosting an event at the club, President Richard Busto told The Post on Friday. The local group has held "Renaissance Dinner" galas at Mar-a-Lago every year since at least 2008.
The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation on Friday also announced it had cancelled its annual medical briefing luncheon at the club and will move it to another venue.
The groups’ cancellations follow rebukes from business executives this week, who heavily criticized Trump’s comments that white supremacists and counterprotesters equally shared the blame for a deadly weekend in Charlottesville.
The Washington Post