Other Trump venues lose events as charities flee Mar-a-Lago

It may not be just Mar-a-Lago that could be losing business.

President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach is on the outs with 20 charities that have pulled their upcoming winter fundraisers, following Trump’s controversial remarks in the aftermath of the deadly violence in the Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month.

Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach and Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter also host charity events during season in Palm Beach County. Early reports indicate that several charities that held events at Trump National in Jupiter this past season aren’t planning to return this coming winter.

MORE: Mar-a-Lago Club’s property value jumps 10%; see how much other Palm Beach County landmarks rose (or fell)

The charities contacted say their decisions were not politically-based, however. Instead, they said they made the move to switch venues in a bid to keep their galas exciting for patrons.

Whatever the reason, when added to the charities departing Mar-a-Lago, the departures add to a sizable group of monied events that will not be adding to the coffers of the Trump Organization this coming winter season.

Kravis Center becomes 20th organization to leave Mar-a-Lago

“Every two to three years, we cycle venues. We’ve done it at Trump National for a couple of years, and now we’re going to have it at Admiral’s Cove. We want to keep it fresh,” said Juan Carlos Fanjul, chief development officer with the Benjamin School in North Palm Beach.

On April 1, The Benjamin School held “Havana Nights” at Trump National in Jupiter. The evening gala raised more than $500,000 for the school.

Protesters march to Mar-a-Lago, denounce Trump comments

This coming year’s event is set for Admiral’s Cove in Palm Beach Gardens. The venue is fitting, Fanjul said. The nautically-themed “Your Ship is Coming In” bash is set for April 7.

The Maltz Theatre in Jupiter also won’t be returning to Trump’s nearby golf club. 

Maltz Theatre Chief Executive Andrew Kato said the gala decisions are made 15 months in advance. So the decision to hold the upcoming gala at The Breakers was made quite a while ago, “even before he was elected president,” Kato said.

The Maltz Theatre will hold its “Nothing Like a Dame” event on Feb. 24 at The Breakers on Palm Beach.

As a theater, Maltz prefers not to go back to the same venue each year: “You have to keep things interesting and shake it up, reinvent yourself,” Kato said.

One charity still set to have a fundraising event at Trump National in Jupiter is the Jupiter Medical Center Foundation, the fundraising arm of Jupiter Medical Center.

“Highballs and Hibiscus” is set for Trump National on Sept. 15, according to the foundation website.

“With Highballs & Hibiscus less than a month away, moving the event is simply not feasible,” a foundation spokeswoman said in a statement. “We are grateful to our sponsors and supporters for recognizing that we are focused on raising funds to continue providing world-class healthcare in our community.”

When asked if Jupiter Medical would be having events at properties in the future, the spokeswoman declined to elaborate but did say the foundation won’t be coming back to Trump National next season.

“I can confirm that we have already reserved a new venue for next year,” the spokeswoman said.

Jupiter Medical Center has had a rising profile in recent years, not only in Jupiter but also in West Palm Beach. The medical complex has strengthened its alliance with New York-based Mount Sinai hospital in a bid to attract wealthy Palm Beach residents who spend time in both New York and Florida and want to keep continuity of care.

As part of this alliance, the two medical centers recently agreed to lease space in the former Bank of America building at 625 N. Flagler Dr. Their names now are plastered at the top of the building, prominently visible to Palm Beach residents.

Also unclear is the Els for Autism 2017 Golf Challenge, set to be held October 27 and 28 at the Ocean Course at The Breakers and Trump National Golf Club Jupiter.

Meanwhile, after holding the kickoff gala for its annual Dream Ride fundraising event at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter this spring, The Hometown Foundation, a nonprofit based in Cheshire, Conn., hasn’t decided where the event will be next year.

A representative for Dream Ride said Monday the non-profit was still looking at venues for its 2018 gala event. The Dream Ride, a multi-day fundraising event where motorcyclists travel to between Florida and Farmington, Connecticut, raised $1.5 million for the Special Olympics in 2016.

The local chapter of the American Heart Association held its 2017 “Go Red For Woman” luncheon at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter in April. But next year’s luncheon will be held at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, according to Tim Stergiou-Allen, the chapter’s communications director.

The annual event is typically held at a new venue every year, and the location is “completely driven” by the group’s volunteer committee, Stergiou-Allen said. The Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach hosted the luncheon in 2015 and 2016.

Charities in northern Palm Beach County may be switching venues to hold patrons’ interests.

But at Mar-a-Lago, reasons for ditching the venue range from vague remarks about the desire to stay away from controversy to flat-out criticism of Trump’s controversial statements on Charlottesville.

On Aug. 11, neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through the northwestern Virginia town that is home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. On Saturday, a suspected white supremacist a rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.

In response, Trump first blamed Saturday’s violence “on many sides,” but zeroed in specific criticism of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis two days later after a backlash to his initial statement. However, Trump doubled down on his first set of comments during a volatile, off-the-cuff news conference Tuesday afternoon at Trump Tower.

In particular, he defended the white nationalists who protested in Charlottesville, saying they included “some very fine people,” while expressing sympathy for their demonstration against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Trump’s comments were 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.

They ignited a firestorm on Twitter, including an intense social media push calling on people to boycott charities that hold their fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago.

Many of those charities, including the Kravis and the Palm Beach Zoo, which announced over the weekend that it was also pulling its annual fundraiser from the venue, were inundated with calls from people across the country to drop the club.

The zoo took to social media on Sunday to announce its decision to change venues.

“We have an unyielding commitment to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world,” Zoo CEO & President, Andrew Aiken said in a statement posted on the zoo’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. “After thoughtful consideration by Zoo leadership, we have decided it is important that we not allow distractions to deter us from our mission and culture.”

In the social media campaign against the zoo, some critics also pointed to images of Trump’s sons posing with what appears to be a dead jaguar during a hunting trip. Some pointed to the zoo’s annual Save the Jaguar’s 5K race.

Hey @PalmBeachZoo, this is what you support when you celebrate at #MaraLago,” one Twitter user wrote.

In its statement, the zoo said that its Tropical Safari Gala “is the only black tie event where more than 400 guests mingle with wildlife.”

“It is critical that the focus of this special night remains on saving species and raising awareness and money for the hundreds of animals, many of them endangered, in our care,” Aiken said.

On Sunday night, the Kravis Center became the latest group to cancel its Mar-a-Lago fundraiser. It now will host its annual wine auction on Feb. 1 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.

The decision leaves only the Palm Beach Habilitation Center still deciding about whether to keep its scheduled Hab-a-Hearts Luncheon at the club. The group has called a board meeting for early this week to discuss the topic.

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