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The annual fundraising bashes that Donald Trump hosted at his Mar-a-Lago Club for the renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute were showy affairs, complete with poolside champagne, flamenco dancers, and Tiffany party favors.

And his titles from Dana-Farber kept getting loftier: First, he was a Discovery Celebration Chair. Then a Grand Benefactor. Then a Grand Honorary Chair.

Those titles did not come at a cost to Trump because he himself has not donated to the cancer center in years. His foundation, which has not included any of his own money since 2008, has given the hospital $350,000 since 2010.


Yet Trump himself may have profited from the relationship: The hospital has paid Trump’s private club up to $150,000 a year since 2011, and once before in 2008, to host the fundraising gala.

The relationship between Trump and Dana-Farber opens a window into the world of high-dollar philanthropy, where galas with celebrity guests attract wealthy donors who hop from party to party on the social circuit. Many hospitals make a point of hosting events in Palm Beach, where many wealthy spend the winter; the Cleveland Clinic’s Florida arm hosted a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago this year and will be back in 2017, according to its website.


And the snowbirds give — last year, Dana-Farber raised about $1.6 million from the Mar-a-Lago event, a small percentage of the $204 million it raised in total last fiscal year.

The hospital says its relationship with Trump is purely business: “Using or not using Mar-a-Lago is not a statement on the presidential election,” said Susan Paresky, Dana-Farber’s senior vice president for development.

But Trump’s foundation has drawn heightened scrutiny, and not everyone associated with Dana-Farber sees such a clear distinction between business and politics.

“Oh Jesus,” said Dr. David Nathan, who served as president of Dana-Farber from 1995 to 2000 and now sits on the board of trustees. He burst into laughter when told by STAT about the relationship between the hospital and Trump. “My first comment is no comment.”

But he continued to comment. “Poor Dana-Farber probably made a mistake getting involved with him,” he said. “But how were they supposed to know what was going to happen?”

The relationship isn’t well-known at the hospital, Nathan said. “I’m there every day,” he said. “I never knew we’re getting money from Donald Trump. And I don’t think anybody in the place really knows that.”

However, he said he didn’t think Dana-Farber should be criticized. “You’ve got to take money where it comes, and as long as it’s not illicit money, I think that’s fair game,” Nathan said.

Dana-Farber’s galas at Mar-a-Lago were lavish affairs, as described in hospital newsletters. In 2011, “a speciality dessert parade” was followed by a Jennifer Hudson concert. The next year, “the event began with poolside champagne and caviar.”

Donald and Melania Trump “welcomed guests to their exclusive venue,’’ a Dana-Farber newsletter said about one of the events. The newsletter included a note from Paresky commending the Trumps’ “leadership.’’

When asked the nature of that leadership, Paresky said that “the Trumps agreed to lend their name to the event.”

The hospital’s fundraising staff and a volunteer committee do the actual hands-on planning for such parties, she said.

Some who have attended the fundraisers said they believe Trump’s presence is good for Dana-Farber.

“I think that his being associated with it is a plus,” said Sandra Bornstein, a Palm Beach resident who attends the fundraiser regularly. He’s “extremely friendly and nice to be around,” she said.

Sandra and her husband, Richard Bornstein, give about $5,000 each year at the Dana-Farber fundraiser. They are Trump supporters, and Richard Bornstein said he has contributed to Trump’s campaign.

A Dana-Farber doctor who presented research at a 2012 Mar-a-Lago dinner said that there isn’t much of a relationship at all between the Republican presidential candidate and the hospital.

“I don’t think there’s a significant there there,” said Dr. George Demetri, senior vice president for experimental therapeutics at Dana-Farber. He saw Trump at some of the Mar-a-Lago events and not at others. Once, he got a photo with the celebrity.

Demetri’s main impression: “He’s very tall.”

The Trump Organization did not respond to specific questions from STAT. The accounting firm listed on the Trump Foundation’s tax forms also did not respond to a request for comment. A Trump campaign spokesperson did not answer specific questions about the Dana-Farber donations but said the Trump Foundation “is proud to make the contributions to such a reputable and worthy organization.”

Dana-Farber stands out as receiving a large percentage of the Trump Foundation’s money. The foundation gave $200,000 to the hospital in 2012, which made up about 12 percent of its charitable contributions that year.

The foundation donated another $100,000 to Dana-Farber in 2013 and then gave $25,000 in each of the next two years.

Dana-Farber recognized the foundation’s generosity by naming Trump an “Honorary Chair” of the fundraiser and also a “Grand Benefactor” in 2013.

In 2014, Trump’s title morphed to “Grand Honorary Chair.”

Each year, Trump himself contributed $0.

Such honors have been examined closely since a series of stories in the Washington Post found Trump himself has not given any money to his foundation since 2008, but is still getting credit for some donations that the foundation makes.

“It is customary to thank and recognize a person most associated with a foundation for that foundation’s support,” Paresky said.

Each year that the fundraising gala was held at Mar-a-Lago, Dana-Farber paid about $250 per attendee to Trump’s private company for hosting the event. Between 320 and 600 attended per year, a hospital spokesperson said. That comes out to between $80,000 and $150,000 income for the Trump company each year. (Spokespeople for Dana-Farber and Trump declined to provide the exact amount paid.)

Trump’s new high profile doesn’t appear to have changed the relationship.

A Dana-Farber spokesperson said that an agreement has been signed for the hospital to host its 2017 gala at Mar-a-Lago.

Dylan Scott contributed reporting.

  • Amazing that a charity spends so much money on a venue which benefits a wealthy man and he gives nothing to the charity. If the attendees really cared about the charity they would give donations without the need to be entertained. All that money that could be used to find a cure.

  • For those of you who claim Trump made no money from this please reread the article – Dana-Farber paid the Mar-a-Laga Club a huge fee each time they used the facility. For those of you who claim, Trump donated through his foundation, please read the numerous articles that have reported Trump has not donated to his foundation; instead he gets other people to donate to it and then uses their money as if it came from him.

  • The color of Trump Foundation money is green the same as Clinton Foundation or Clinton Global Initiative money. If Trump Foundation cash benefited Dana Farber, a wonderful organization, so much the better. If Trump’s Mar a Lago venue attracted wealthy donors to the Dana Farber galas, so much the better. Get a grip. The current board member, who vented, may also want to get a grip or suggest that his director development start reimbursing donors and foundations of standing that have recently become controversial.

    • Not really equivalent, for the simple reason that the Clintons are very explicit about who contributes to the Clinton Foundation and how that money is used, while Trump takes personal credit for contributions he never made, and is reluctant to reveal how the foundation’s money is being used. When the Clinton’s commission a life-size painting of Bill, and have the Clinton Foundation buy it, and then hide this, only then can we be talking equivalence…

  • Just another example of sleeze bag Trump’s idea of charity. Any time he can make a buck, he doesn’t care at who’s expense. No wonder he does not dare to release is tax returns. Mark Cuban has pegged Trump for what he truly is: a cheap bastard.

    • What the heck did you read? And what the heck does it have to do with his Tax Return?

      Obviously you were reading with the intention of finding fault, because there really isn’t anything there.

      Trump’s Foundation has been one of the major contributors, and while he hasn’t donated directly, he does fund his foundation and is one of the people that makes decisions for the donations of his foundation…

      Also, one of Trump’s sources of income is the licensing of his name, to “allow” someone to use his name to garner attendees to a charity is as valuable as a straight donation.

      Try actually acting like you are taking in material with some sense of unbiased attitude.

    • Really? You actually read that? Please re-read the article.

      Hint: Trump’s Foundation has been donating to them and helping in raising funds, and there is no mention of Trump receiving any form of compensation from Dana-Farber, anywhere.

  • As a Dana-Farber patient and contributor, I am so disappointed that the institute would associate itself with such a blatant racist, misogynistic, xenophobe. A real “benefactor” would donate his own money and use of Mar-A-lago for nothing. He is a phony “philanthropist.” Please reconsider your relationship with this evil person. Thank you.

    • “I am so disappointed that the institute would associate itself with such a blatant racist, misogynistic, xenophobe.”

      The only “blatant” thing, is your blatant regard for anything not factual. I mean, since you obviously are incapable of thinking for yourself and just merely like to echo the lies of the leftists.

      Just because he has harsh words to a woman, does not make him “misogynistic”. Just because he has harsh words about the Mexican Government, does not mean he is “racist”.

      And I really have to laugh at the Xenophobe part, honestly… the only blatant thing about anyone Xenophobe is your lack of understanding of the word.

      As in, two of Trump’s three wives were all Immigrants. Trump has long standing foreign relations, in numerous countries and has NEVER spoken out against any group of foreigners.

      The only thing close, would be his regard for allowing Muslim Extremist into the country, while there is no proper vetting.

      Of course, there have been 5 known “terrorist” based attacks in 3 years, and many more prevented, really means nothing. How many Homosexual Nightclubs have to be shot up before you realize THEY have declared war on the US and have deemed we are not worthy to live… to the point they are willing to die, just to make sure you are, too?

    • It is amazing how people defend Trump’s lying and indiscretion by accusing the Clinton’s of something. That is how we sink to new lows as a society……in other words, lying and cheating is fine for Trump because we think the Clinton’s are doing it based on BS from Fox news and the right wing propaganda machine funded by Putin….that being Breitbart.

      Breitbart receives frunding from the KGB via money laundered with Trump and his real estate deals in Russia. Wake up and stop allowing Russia to mess with our elections.

    • @geezegeek3… You really are a sheep, aren’t you?

      Trump does not donate to the Charity from his personal funds, BUT.. he donates directly to the Foundation… THAT IS WHY THERE IS A FOUNDATION!!!!

      And guess who is on the Foundation Board, determining how to use the money? Oh, yeah… Donald Trump!!

      And they the grand proof you do not have a clue… One of Trump’s business’ is the licensing of his name. Dana-Farber is allowed to use Trump’s name to garner attendees. THAT is the same as a contribution.

      Which shouldn’t be a stretch to understand, as Hillary Clinton, has in the past, been paid to be the main attraction for events, as has Barack Obama.

      It’s also popular to use the name of more well-known actors, musicians and other entertainers.

      Try actually acting like you are an impartial citizen, as is your civic duty.

    • @geezergeek3.. please, point out where Trump was “making money”?

      Some people are just too busy trying to find fault, they don’t bother to actually be correct.

      Trump, via his foundation, has provided funding, as well as lent his name to events in order to attract attendee, to which they paid and/or donated to the charity.

      For his work, he has received a special acknowledgement, and the ability to promote the charity, publicly.

      Once again, you have proven to be nothing more than a sheep for a shill and more concerned with finding whatever you believe to be fault, even at the cost of proving you are ignorant of the facts.

      Like the fact that the Clinton Foundation only pays out 6% of it’s expenditures to charities… and it International..

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