Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laurel Baker will not be canned for her comments urging charities to “have a conscience” when considering events at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.
The chamber board held a meeting this morning where members were expected to discuss Baker’s comments and possible reprimand.
Chamber President Carrie Bradburn would not comment on the nature of the discussion or whether a vote took place.
“It’s the board’s policy that we don’t discuss employee matters,” said Bradburn, who on Monday sent a letter to Mar-a-Lago apologizing for Baker’s comments. “We are moving on with our mission to promote the business community. I’m focused on growing the chamber and moving forward.”
But Baker said today that she’s back to business as usual at the chamber.
“I’m grateful to be able to continue to represent the business community and encourage the continued vitality of the Town of Palm Beach,” she said.
Last week, in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., violence and Trump’s reaction, Baker told charities to “look at your mission statement” for guidance when making decisions about hosting fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago.
“If you have a conscience, you’re really condoning bad behavior by continuing to be there,” Baker said in an exclusive interview Aug. 17 with The Palm Beach Post. “The integrity of any organization rests on their sound decisions and stewardship.”
Reaction to her comments has been mixed, with some calling her courageous and others demanding she be fired.
Baker, who said she was speaking for herself and not the chamber, said she has received mostly support and positive feedback. Her island office had two large flower arrangements sent from supporters. But, Baker said today that she’s ready to move on.
“Unfortunately no one is ever separated from their job even though you think you have your own identity,” she said. “It was a simple question of my personal opinion and I had no idea that it would take on a life of its own, but that’s the media.”
Chamber board treasurer John Bowers, of TD Bank, also would not comment on the board’s discussion about Baker but said the chamber is committed to being non-political.
“Our mission is limited to the non-partisan representation and advancement of the business community,” he said. “We focus on the economic, civic and commercial interests of the business community.”
Mar-a-Lago is a member of the chamber.
In the past several days, 23 charities have announced plans to leave Mar-a-Lago for other venues.