UPDATED: Aug. 19, 2017
On Friday, according to local reports, more charities announced that plans to hold events at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach have been cancelled: Susan G. Komen, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Big Dog Ranch Rescue, The Autism Project of Palm Beach County, and The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation.
The lure of reaching Palm Beach high society when hosting a fundraiser at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club has been trumped by the president’s response to last weekend’s deadly events in Charlottesville, Va., as major charities are now taking their business elsewhere.
The Cleveland Clinic (on the 2017 DiversityInc Top Hospitals and Health Systems list), the American Cancer Society and the American Friends of Magen David Adom announced Thursday that they are no longer hosting upcoming 2018 events at Trump’s Palm Beach estate.
“Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community,” American Cancer Society spokeswoman Miriam Falco said. “It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”
Two 2018 events — its 60th anniversary gala and a dinner for sponsors — will not be held at the club.
The American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA), which raises money for an ambulance service in Israel, has been holding its annual gala at the resort since 2012.
“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,” Erik Levis, spokesman of organization, said in a statement.
AFDA’s gala in February 2016 featured more than 600 attendees who paid $650 per ticket, according to The Palm Beach Post.
For the past eight years, the Cleveland Clinic has hosted its annual event at Mar-a-Lago. Gloria Tavera is a Case Western Reserve University medical student who helped spearhead the petition against using Trump’s Palm Beach estate as a venue.
Tavera commented to Cleveland.com that the Clinic didn’t change venues when immigration and health care were the pressing issues, but “Charlottesville was the one that broke the camel’s back.”
Trump did an about-face from his scripted comments on Monday denouncing bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism. In remarks to the press on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his sentiment that the actions of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were ethically equal to the people protesting neo-Nazis, which he originally implied in his “many sides” comment on Saturday.
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke thanked Trump on Tuesday via Twitter for his “honesty and courage.”
Trump’s statements yesterday drew a line that divides good from evil. There is no moral equivalence. You have a right to know where leadership stands.
The exit of charities from Mar-a-Lago also follows Wednesday’s decision by CEOs of some of the nation’s leading corporations to disband Trump’s business advisory council.
Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, urged other charitable organizations that are not withdrawing from Mar-a-Lago, and their donors, to seek another venue.
“If you have a conscience, you’re really condoning bad behavior by continuing to be there,” Baker said. “Many say it’s the dollars [raised at the events] that count. Yes. But the integrity of any or organization rests on their sound decisions and stewardship.
”Personally, I do not feel that supporting him, directly or indirectly, speaks well of any organization.”
Mar-a-Lago Seeks to Hire Foreign Nationals
The Mar-a-Lago club also represents some of the double standards of the Trump administration. Trump has said that immigrants are taking jobs from native workers.
In July, during “Made in America Week,” BuzzFeed first reported that the club requested 70 visas to hire foreign nationals this fall — 35 waiters, 20 cooks and 15 housekeepers. Trump’s golf club in Jupiter, Fla., asked permission to hire six foreign workers as cooks. If approved, the workers at both Trump-owned locations would fill the jobs between this October and May 2018.
The H-2B program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs.
Applications for H-2B visa workers are allowed when “there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified and available to do the temporary work,” according to the Department of Homeland Security.
So, last month, the club placed an ad on page C8 of the Palm Beach Post in tiny print stating: “3 mos recent & verifiable exp in fine dining/country club,” and “No tips.”
The ad included no phone number or email address. “Apply by fax,” it said, and provided a mailing address. The ad only ran twice.
On the campaign trail, Trump blamed immigrants for the lack of jobs available to nonwhite voters and working-class Americans.
In July 2015 at a rally in Phoenix, he accused Mexicans of taking jobs.
“They’re taking our jobs,” he said. “They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.”
Last year, The New York Times reported that U.S. residents are less likely to be hired at Mar-a-Lago:
“Since 2010, nearly 300 United States residents have applied or been referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers there. But according to federal records, only 17 have been hired.”