It looks like another liberal attempt to boycott anything to do with President Trump has backfired at his Florida resort.
Facing backlash from donors, a few charity organizations opted to book their upcoming events at a location other than Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s palatial Palm Beach estate. But for many others who have defied the anti-Trump critics, holding their event at the president’s part-time home has been a bonus.
“I’m loyal to Donald Trump and I wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. It’s a beautiful venue,” philanthropist Lois Pope told the Palm Beach Post.
In fact, ticket sales for charity events at the “winter White House,” as it has come to be called, increased for this past season.
“People will pay huge amounts of money to have access to the president. If you can donate to a charity and have access, that’s a win in my book,” one major donor said.
Donors who disagree with Trump and his policies have reportedly complained about events held at the world-famous private club, demanding that charity organizations pick more “neutral” venues in the future.
“When I receive an invitation to anything at Mar-a-Lago, I only attend the things I really feel I have to because of the relationship of the person who invited me,” one “socially conscious” donor offended by the administration, said, according to the Post.
For organizations that want to capitulate to demands of anti-Trump patrons, the task is harder than it looks.
“When you’re in the Palm Beach area, you are limited with the number of facilities that can have a sit-down dinner for 600 or 700 or 800. And all the charities want their functions to be on Palm Beach because that’s where the money is at,” Al Adelson, a member of the local Cleveland Clinic council, said.
Cleveland Clinic held its annual gala at Mar-a-Lago in February, despite one of its doctors getting caught up in the president’s immigration ban before the event, the Post reported.
Patrons and event organizers prefer to use the Mar-a-Lago venue because of its atmosphere, castle-like interior and the ability to use multiple spaces, from poolside cocktails to the White and Gold Ballroom and dinner in the Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom.
And while Trump’s almost weekly visits have caused traffic and security challenges, charities are still staying out in their booking choices.
“With him coming here every weekend, it’s making Mar-a-Lago the place to go,” West Palm Beach attorney and a frequent charity attendee, Harvey Oyer, said. “You may have the existing president walk in on your event.”
Oyer attended the International Red Cross Ball in February where Trump not only stopped by, “he stayed three hours.”
Other charity organizations agree that the Trump factor has been a boon to their cause, not the curse that critics predicted. Big Dog Ranch Rescue received a few complaints about locating its fundraiser last month at Mar-a-Lago but the organization got the last laugh, selling out all 600 tickets.
A venue choice should have “nothing to do with politics or who your choice was for president, It’s about supporting the charity that you’re coming to,” Big Dog President Lauree Simmons said, adding that the group has no intention of moving and “next year we’re going to expand it to 650.”
Even organizations that appear to be at odds with the administration’s policies can’t deny the monetary success of the events they have held at the Trump property.
Susan G. Koman, the breast cancer fighting nonprofit will be returning to the venue despite comments made about having a presence at controversial places. And despite complaints about Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric having hunted big game for sport, the Palm Beach Zoo opted to keep its annual event at Mar-a-Lago as well.
“We try not to let politics get involved in decision-making process,” Andrew Aiken, the zoo’s chief executive, said.
A wise decision for charities like the zoo, which raised a record of nearly $1.7 million at its January gala attended by 500 guests.
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