LEVELAND — The Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society said they will not hold annual fundraising galas at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida amid intense criticism over the president’s reluctance to denounce white nationalist groups.
The announcements come as businesses have faced increasing pressure to distance themselves from Trump, who has been sharply criticized for his equivocal response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va. The clinic’s decision, which was announced Thursday, was a reversal from its prior commitment to keep the event.
Its announcement was quickly followed by the American Cancer Society, which also said it would drop plans to hold its 2018 gala at Mar-a-Lago.
“Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community,” the cancer organization said in a statement. “It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”
The news of the canceled events followed a decision by prominent business executives on Wednesday to disband a business advisory council advising the president. The clinic’s CEO, Dr. Toby Cosgrove, was among the executives who opted to pull the plug on the council.
The clinic has held a fundraiser at the Mar-a-Lago club for the past eight years. This year’s event happened soon after Trump’s January executive order on immigration, which prevented a Cleveland Clinic doctor from returning to the country, prompting protests and calls for the February fundraiser to be moved or canceled. But the fundraiser went on as planned, attracting about 500 attendees and raising $1 million for the clinic’s Florida hospital.
The clinic initially said it planned to again hold its event at the resort in 2018. On Thursday, executives reversed course, but avoided any mention of politics in their justification. “After careful consideration, Cleveland Clinic has decided that it will not hold a Florida fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago in 2018,” a hospital spokeswoman said in a statement. “We thank the staff of Mar-a-Lago for their service over the years.”