PALM BEACH — The reputation of President Donald Trump—rocky to begin with—is enduring further turbulence owing to the commander-in-chief’s unwillingness to thoroughly denounce neo-Nazi groups for the recent events in Charlottesville.
As the drama unfolds, at least half a dozen large charities have severed ties with the president and are pulling their scheduled events from his Mar-a-Lago resort.
The Cleveland Clinic, a research hospital with a site in West Palm Beach, was the first to announce a cancellation on Thursday afternoon, suggesting that they might even switch to the nearby Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa.
The change is significant, as the clinic has held their fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for the last 8 years, each time raising close to $1 million.
Not long after the Cleveland Clinic’s announcement, the American Cancer Society turned their collective back on Trump’s “Winter White House,” canceling not just one but TWO events. And this morning, the Salvation Army walked as well, joining the American Red Cross, Susan G. Komen and the Autism Association of Palm Beach County.
“Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community,” the Society said in their statement regarding re-booking of their 2018 sponsor dinner and 60th anniversary gala. “It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”
Finally, the American Friends of Magen David Adom (“AFMDA”), a group supporting Israel ambulance and disaster relief programs, canceled their February, 2018 fundraising gala, an event that draws 600 attendees paying $650 per admission.
“After considerable deliberation, AFMDA—an apolitical and humanitarian aid organization—will not hold its 2018 Palm Beach Celebration of Life Gala at Mar-a-Lago,” the group announced simply.
The moves from the charities drew praise from Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, who urged others to “have a conscience” and discontinue their Mar-a-Lago events.
“If you have a conscience, you’re really condoning bad behavior by continuing to be there,” she declared. “Many say it’s the dollars [raised] that count. Yes. But the integrity of any or organization rests on their sound decisions and stewardship.”
“Personally,” Baker continued, “I do not feel that supporting [Trump], directly or indirectly, speaks well of any organization.”
Despite the building consensus, not all charities are abandoning Trump’s Florida manor. Notable stalwarts staying the course include West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center and The Big Dog Ranch Rescue of Loxahatchee Groves, the latter of which holds a particularly lucrative “Wine, Women and Shoes” event at Mar-a-Lago in March.
“Most of our supporters know that we do what we do for our dogs, and [Mar-a-Lago] just happens to be the best venue,” said Robin Friedman, Big Dog Ranch Rescue’s director of development. “In fact, it’s one of the only venues where we can do an event of our size in the daytime.”
Friedman neglected to mention that socialite Georgina Bloomberg (daughter of billionaire and ex-NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg) and Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump are heavily involved with the charity and will be co-chairing the scheduled Mar-a-Lago events, two factors that undoubtedly do much to keep the organization rooted at the resort.
The defections from Mar-a-Lago echo the recent mass exodus of CEOs from Trump’s Advisory Councils, leading the president to abolish them altogether rather than face more public embarrassment as resignations mounted up.
Who knew that being a Nazi sympathizer could be so damaging?