Cleveland Clinic, American Cancer Society pull events from Trump resort

Posted at 6:09 PM, Aug 17, 2017

The Cleveland Clinic and the American Cancer Society are abandoning plans to hold fundraisers at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

Toby Cosgrove, the Cleveland Clinic's CEO, was among the executives on the White House business councils that imploded this week after Trump blamed both sides for the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

It will be the first time in eight years that the Cleveland Clinic has not held the fundraiser at the Trump resort.

"We thank the staff of Mar-a-Lago for their service over the years," the hospital group said in a statement. It did not give a reason. The announcement was reported earlier Thursday by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

A few hours after the Cleveland Clinic's announcement, the American Cancer Society followed suit.

The nonprofit said in a statement that it had planned to host its 2018 gala at Mar-a-Lago "based on a variety of factors, including costs and venue requirements." But the organization said "it has become increasingly clear" that hosting its fundraiser on Trump-owned property presents a "challenge" to its values.

The nonprofit -- which has hosted the annual event at Mar-a-Lago for at least the past decade -- has not yet selected another venue. The decision was reported earlier by the Palm Beach Post.

Mar-a-Lago declined comment. The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a message.

The health organization last hosted its gala in Trump's Palm Beach club in February of this year.

That event coincided with a visit from Trump, who was in Florida the same weekend to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It's not clear whether Trump attended any portion of the American Cancer Society's event, but he is known to pop in on fundraisers. In fact, Trump served as a co-chair for the American Cancer Society's annual event in 2014, the organization said.

The Cleveland Clinic is a hospital group based in Cleveland, but it has a health center in South Florida. Proceeds from previous Mar-a-Lago galas have helped pay for medical equipment, nursing education and wheelchairs, according to the organization's website.

A spokeswoman said the event raises about $1 million each year on average. She said the Cleveland Clinic has not yet decided on a date or new location for the 2018 gala. The 2017 gala was in February.

The clinic had received criticism for hosting the annual event at Mar-a-Lago. Earlier this year, protesters organized outside the Cleveland center to pressure the hospital to cancel the event, according to local media reports.

And in July, nearly 1,700 people -- including doctors and medical students -- signed an open letter asking the clinic to hold the fundraiser somewhere else.

Holding the fundraiser there "symbolically and financially supports a politician actively working to decrease access to healthcare and cut billions of dollars in research funding from the National Institutes of Health budget," read the letter, which was posted on Medium.