The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute held a fundraiser this year at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, as it has the past six years — and the president himself attended.
But you wouldn’t know it from reading the hospital’s newsletter.
For the first time, the official writeup of the event in its polished mailing made no mention of the gala’s location. Trump was not mentioned, nor was he included among the many photographs of those present.
By contrast, every other year since 2011 the newsletter has noted that the fundraiser took place at the Mar-a-Lago club and often mentioned Trump by name. Trump’s picture sometimes appeared in the newsletter, and he has received credit for donations made by his charitable foundation, which, at the time of those donations, did not contain any of Trump’s personal money.
This year, while the Palm Beach, Fla., club’s distinctive wall tiles are visible in photographs of wealthy donors, the club’s name appears nowhere in the “Impact” newsletter.
That might be related to public outcry after Trump’s executive order related to immigration, during which medical students and professionals tried to convince Dana-Farber and the Cleveland Clinic, which also had a February fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, to move their events. The protests were unsuccessful, but Dana-Farber committed to avoid “controversial venues” in the future.
Dana-Farber’s February event raised $2.2 million for the hospital and attracted hundreds of guests, including wealthy Bostonians who winter in the beachfront town. Many hospitals and medical organizations host fundraisers on Palm Beach, and Mar-a-Lago is one of two venues that has enough space for the large crowds these events draw.
While other nearby venues might be suitable, they’re not physically located on the island of Palm Beach.
“There is this weird culture in Palm Beach where people who live on the island do not want to go off the island for a gala,” said an individual who works with a different health-related organization that has fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago. “There is a certain prestige to being on the island.”
Since Trump ascended to the presidency, the club has been the focus of increased scrutiny. Trump has spent six weekends on the property, where he has wined and dined foreign leaders while directing military actions. But the club’s guestbook and membership list are not publicly accessible, and taxpayers are shouldering part of the bill for his weekend junkets.
Dana-Farber did not respond to a request for comment.