Since President Donald Trump opened the gold-infused ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago resort almost 12 years ago, it has been a popular rental for the American Red Cross, hospitals, medical researchers and other charities for fundraising galas where the wealthiest donors are wined and dined, often netting $1 million or more.
But Trump’s election puts charities in an awkward position over choosing the resort — recently dubbed the president’s Winter White House — for events they may have planned more than a year in advance.
With Trump placing a moratorium on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and his promises to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, activists are pressuring charities such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Cleveland Clinic to move or cancel their galas this month.
As the International Red Cross held a gala fundraiser Saturday at Mar-a-Lago, about three thousand demonstrators marched nearby to protest Trump’s now-blocked executive order temporarily limiting immigration. The event ended peacefully, and there were no arrests.
So far, no known Mar-a-Lago charity events have been moved or canceled.
More than 2,000 people, including faculty and students from Harvard Medical School, have signed an online petition demanding that Boston-based Dana-Farber move or cancel its Feb. 18 “Discovery Celebration,” featuring a performance by Grammy Award winner David Foster. The cheapest ticket is $1,250.
Petition organizer George Karandinos, a 30-year-old Harvard medical student from Houston, said he understands that canceling or moving the Dana-Farber event would be difficult, “but they can make a public moral stand that is in line with their stated values” of diversity and supporting scientific exchanges across borders. Plus, he said, a cancellation might attract additional donors.
A similar open letter, signed by more than 1,100 including doctors and medical students, demands that Cleveland Clinic move its Feb. 25 “Reflections of Versailles: A Night in the Hall of