Three fundraising giants — the American Cancer Society, the Cleveland Clinic and the American Friends of Magen David Adom — announced Thursday that they would cancel gala events scheduled to take place at U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort later this year and in 2018.
The move signals a negative response to Trump’s recent remarks on the violence at last weekend’s Charlottesville, Va., protests.
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“Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community,” the American Cancer Society said in a statement. “It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”
Although neither the American Friends of Magen David Adom (a group that raises funds for an ambulance service in Israel) nor the Cleveland Clinic gave explicit reasons for cancelling their events, the latter charity had been receiving mounting pressure from the medical community not to hold any fundraising events at the luxury Palm Beach resort.
Earlier this year, 1,700 nurses, physicians and medical students signed an open letter demanding the Cleveland Clinic move their February 2016 event from Mar-a-Lago. It deemed the resort “unacceptable because it symbolically and financially supports a politician actively working to decrease access to healthcare and cut billions of dollars in research funding from the National Institutes of Health budget.”
Despite the outcry, the fundraising event was still held at Mar-a-Lago on Feb. 25. The recent decision to move their 2018 event from the resort was declared a win.
“Our campaign declared victory, but the fight for health justice continues on many fronts, and we will work to confront them together,” the letter stated.
In recent months, a number of other charitable groups who held annual events at Mar-a-Lago have stated that they will find alternate venues for upcoming fundraisers, citing security issues and political differences as reasons. They include the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in New York, and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami.
Laurel Baker, head of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, called Mar-a-Lago a “morally reprehensible” business on Thursday, according to the Washington Post, and advised charities to review their mission statements.
“Can you honestly say having an event at Mar-a-Lago, given all that has transpired, is the best stewardship of your efforts?”
Despite this recent spate of charities who have pulled their events from the resort, some who were contacted by the Associated Press, said they will still hold future fundraising events there.
Kravis Centre spokesperson Gary Schweikhart said “the folks supporting” the performing arts centre’s annual wine auction want to have it there. And the Palm Beach Police Foundation said it will hold its annual ball at Mar-a-Lago. Among other reasons, the foundation said it is the only local venue that can hold 700 guests.