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Five more charities pull out of Mar-a-Lago events


Five more philanthropic organizations said Friday they have pulled their fundraising events from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club following an intense social media push calling on people to boycott charities that use the venue.

A total of eight groups have now pulled their events from Mar-a-Lago since the president’s off-the-cuff, combative and controversial news conference on Tuesday at Trump Tower.

A ninth charity, Palm Beach philanthropist Lois Pope’s Lady in Red gala for education initiatives, may depart as well. Pope, a self-described Trump loyalist, issued a statement Friday saying she had recommended to the organization’s board of directors that they seek a new location.

Click here to see which charities are in, which are out of Mar-a-Lago for this season

On Friday, Susan G. Komen, the world’s largest nonprofit in the fight against breast cancer, the International Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Autism Project of Palm Beach County, and Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee Groves announced they would not hold their events at Trump’s Palm Beach club during the winter fundraising season.

Those announcements came a day after the Cleveland Clinic, American Cancer Society and the American Friends of Magen David Adom, an organization supporting Israel disaster relief programs, said they would seek alternative venues. The Cleveland Clinic plans to hold its Feb. 23 ball at The Breakers in Palm Beach.

The International Red Cross announcement, in particular, marks the end of an era. Mar-a-Lago’s original owner, Marjorie Merriweather Post, hosted the IRC’s first ball there and Trump has been a frequent chairman of the event. And Big Dog Rescue, which counts Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump as a gala co-chair, decided Friday to move its fundraiser only a day after it reiterated its intention to stick with Mar-a-Lago.

In a statement Friday, Laurie Simmons, who heads Big Dog Ranch Rescue, said the group now plans to hold its annual luncheon at its new Loxahatchee Groves shelter.

“In the interest of being better able to focus on our core mission of helping animals and saving dogs, we have decided to hold our next annual luncheon at our new facility in Loxahatchee Groves,” Simmons said. “Holding the event at our facility will also give our donors a first-hand look at our world-class dog rescue operation.”

The exodus, however, coincided with a firestorm of criticism on social media. Many Twitter users called on people to boycott the charities, pointing to Trump’s controversial statements on the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, including that “both sides” were at fault in the confrontations between neo-Nazis, white supremacists and counter protesters.

A third organization joins charities leaving Mar-a-Lago

Trump’s insistence that there were also “ very fine people” on both sides was especially stinging when juxtaposed against the anti-Semitic chants of “Blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” by marching, torch-carrying neo-Nazis and others on Aug. 11.

Pope issued a sharply worded statement to that effect on Friday.

“The hatred, vitriol and anti-Semitic and racist views being spewed by neo-Nazis and white supremacists are repugnant and repulsive — and they are antithetical to everything that this country stands for. 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,” Pope said in a prepared statement. “I want my children, grandchildren and great-grandson to know that standing up to hatred and discrimination in all forms is both a personal responsibility and the right thing to do. Therefore, I am recommending to my board that we move this year’s gala from the Mar-A-Lago Club.”

Ironically, those wanting the charities to shun Mar-a-Lago turned to Twitter, which Trump himself uses on a daily basis to reach out to supporters and castigate opponents.

On Twitter, some critics used the hashtag #DropMarALago in their calls to charities to abandon the club, which has long been an oasis for charities and their patrons during Palm Beach’s winter charity season.

Others said they would no longer donate to the Salvation Army and vowed to stop shopping at its thrift stores if the nonprofit didn’t change venues.

“Do the right thing,” one person wrote to The Salvation Army on Twitter. “Stand against hatred & bigotry, Nazis and KKK. Don’t continue to host your events at Mar-A-Lago.”

“Please do the right thing and cancel your Mar-a-largo (sic) event,” another Twitter user said. “If not @goodwill gets my business from now on.”

One local charity chnaged its mind, will exit Mar-a-Lago, with Lara Trump as co-chair

Several of those taking aim Susan G. Komen used the hashtag #RacistForTheCure, a reference to Komen’s annual Race For The Cure events, to put pressure on the group to change venues.

“Have the breast cancer grifters over at @SusanGKomen cancelled their gala at Mar-A- Lago yet? #RacistForTheCure,” one tweet read.

Local nonprofits, including the Palm Beach Zoo and the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, were also targeted on Twitter for plans to hold events at Mar-a-Lago.

“@KravisCenter If you’re not against the #nazis, you’re WITH the Nazis, Move #MaraLago event,” one person wrote.

The linkage of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and Nazism are a particularly sharp rebuke of the performing arts center’s decision to hold its event at the president’s club.

The Kravis center’s roots go back to the Palm Beach Country Club, created by Jewish residents of Palm Beach who were excluded from other private clubs.

In a 2014 interview with the Palm Beach Post, Kravis backer Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. recalled why club members decided to donate to the performing arts center in honor of Raymond F. Kravis, an Oklahoma oil man and Palm Beach Country Club member.

Every year, club members would go around asking other members to donate to their causes. And every year, Kravis would contribute generously, Dreyfoos said.

“But Kravis never had his own cause,” Dreyfoos said.

So when the time came to name the center, “they named it for him,” Dreyfoos said. “They wanted to reciprocate.”

Some Twitter users pointed to Friday’s mass resignation of the President’s Committee On the Arts and Humanities in their calls for the Kravis Center to move its fundraiser. The panel’s members cited Trump’s remarks about the violence in Charlottesville as the reason for their departure.

“Hey @KravisCenter follow the lead of fellow arts leaders today!,” one tweet read. “Find a new place for your gala!”

Staff writers Kristina Webb and Shannon Donnelly contributed to this report.



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