Two high-profile clients on Thursday decided against holding their annual fundraising galas at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort as executives continue to distance themselves from the commander in chief in the wake of his response to racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.
The American Cancer Society on Thursday afternoon issued a statement indicating its 2018 Island of Palm Beach gala would not be held at Mar-a-Lago – Trump’s “winter White House” – this year. An employee at the society’s Palm Beach office says the charitable body has been holding events at the resort for 11 years.
“When we chose to hold our 2018 event and related dinner at Mar-a-Lago, we selected the venue based on a variety of factors, including costs and venue requirements,” the American Cancer Society said in a statement. “Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community. It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”
The statement went on to say that “only by coming together will we solve our society’s most difficult challenges, including reducing the pain and suffering from cancer.”
The announcement trails a similar decision made by the Cleveland Clinic, which announced on Thursday it also planned to pull the plug on a 2018 Mar-a-Lago gala. The group has also regularly scheduled events at the resort in recent years.
Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove previously sat on Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum, which the president dissolved Wednesday after a bevy of executives resigned from their advisory positions and reports surfaced that at least one Trump council planned to disband of its own accord.
“As our members have expressed individually over the past several days, intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values,” members of the Strategy and Policy Forum said Wednesday in a joint statement. “We believe the debate over Forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans. As such, the President and we are disbanding the Forum.”
The flurry of departures was sparked by Trump’s reaction to a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on Saturday that turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring more than a dozen. The man accused of driving the car was charged with second-degree murder. Trump initially blamed violence on “many sides” and was criticized for not immediately condemning the white supremacist and neo-Nazi presence at the rally. He voiced more vocal opposition to those groups a few days later, but by mid-week he had returned to blaming “both sides” and criticizing members of the “alt-left” for their role in the clash.