Charities, nonprofits pull events from Mar-a-Lago amid Charlottesville controversy

The developments come amid backlash to Trump's response to Charlottesville

September 6, 2017, 3:16 PM

— -- A number of high-profile charitable organizations have canceled planned fundraising events and galas at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, amid growing backlash to the president's response to the deadly violence that broke out in Charlottesville.

As of Wednesday, 21 organizations have confirmed to ABC News their plans to cancel or move events scheduled at Mar-a-Lago.

David Lin, the CEO of the Palm Beach Rehabilitation Center, told ABC News today that his organization will not be hosting their annual "Hab-a-Hearts" luncheon at Mar-a-Lago this year.

The event reportedly attracts over 400 guests, and even featured an appearance from President Trump last February.

A 22nd organization -- the Achilles Freedom Team -- is holding a board meeting in late September and will discuss a potential relocation of an upcoming event set to be held at Mar-a-Lago, Mark Weiss, the co-chairman of the organization's board, told ABC News.

The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach announced in August that it will be pulling an event from Mar-a-Lago.

"The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and celebrating the unique architectural and cultural heritage of Palm Beach. Given the current environment surrounding Mar-a-Lago, we have made the decision to move our annual dinner dance," read a message on its Facebook page.

In August, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army all confirmed to ABC News that the organizations are no longer going to be holding their fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago over the next year.

“The Salvation Army relies heavily on fundraising events like The Holiday Snow Ball in Palm Beach to further our mission of helping those in need through a range of social services including food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, clothing and shelter for the homeless, and opportunities for the underprivileged," the Salvation Army wrote in a statement. "Because the conversation has shifted away from the purpose of this event, we will not host it at Mar-a-Lago.”

The American Cancer Society — which has held events at Mar-a-Lago since 2009 — along with the Cleveland Clinic, both announced they were pulling fundraising events scheduled at the club for 2018.

"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 American Cancer Society wrote in a statement.

These organizations join a growing list of groups that are changing the venues for their fundraising events.

The Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Leaders in Furthering Education (LIFE) are also among those that said they are changing venues for events previously scheduled at Mar-a-Lago.

“America was founded on the principles of life, liberty and justice for all. In the 241 years since, millions of Americans of all religions, races, creeds, color, gender and sexual orientation have died -- and millions more have been disabled -- fighting to protect these values and freedoms. Now, however, our great nation is under siege by those who seek to undermine and obliterate these principles. Indeed, the hatred, vitriol and anti-Semitic and racist views being spewed by Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists are repugnant and repulsive -- and they are antithetical to everything that this country, and I personally stand for," Lois Pope, a philanthropist and veterans advocate who founded LIFE, wrote in a statement provided to ABC News.

Other groups that have pulled events from Mar-a-Lago include: the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Friends of Magen David Adom, MorseLife, the Gateway for Cancer Research, Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper (HOW), the Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation, the Big Dog Ranch Rescue, the Unicorn Children's Foundation, the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society cited the security hassles of hosting an event at Mar-a-Lago as a reason for switching venues.

Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laurel Baker, who has been outspoken about organizations continuing to hold fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago, told ABC News: “I’ve been carrying around this quote with me for a while, it’s from Dante: ‘The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.’”

Baker also told ABC News that she expects more organizations will pull events in coming weeks, but that those decisions are up to the organizations themselves.

ABC's Dylan Wells and Saisha Talwar contributed to this report

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