The Cleveland Clinic has succumbed to internal and external pressure, canceling plans to hold its 2018 fundraiser at the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.
"After careful consideration, Cleveland Clinic has decided that it will not hold a Florida fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago in 2018," the hospital system said in a statement to media outlets. "We thank the staff of Mar-a-Lago for their service over the years."
Nearly 1,700 medical students, nurses and doctors had signed a petition urging the world-renowned clinic to find a new location for the fundraiser in light of Trump’s policies, which they say conflict with the Cleveland Clinic’s mission.
Until Thursday, the organization had held firm that it would hold the gala at the upscale property. But this week the Cleveland Clinic cut its ties to President Trump. CEO Toby Cosgrove, M.D., served on Trump’s strategic and policy forum until Wednesday, when the group disbanded over the president’s response to last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. CEOs from several big-name companies wanted to disassociate themselves from Trump in the wake of his failure to condemn white supremacists for the violence. He instead assigned blame to both the counterprotesters and the white supremacists. One 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured when an Ohio man, described as a white supremacist, drove a car into the crowd of counterprotesters.
The Cleveland Clinic was criticized last February for failing to cancel the annual fundraiser after Trump signed an executive order that halted immigration from seven countries. That order caused one of the organization’s first-year internal medicine residents to be detained and forced to return to Saudi Arabia because her visa was issued in Sudan, one of the countries on Trump’s list.
Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil told The Washington Post on Thursday that “there were a variety of factors” behind the cancellation of the 2018 fundraiser, but she would not elaborate on the decision. However, as recently as last week Sheil told the publication that the fundraiser was not political and the Cleveland Clinic still intended to hold the gala at the Trump resort. The fundraiser has been held at the Palm Beach location for eight years and typically raises $1 million a year in funds used to buy medical equipment.
The Mar-a-Lago is also facing the loss of another big fundraising client. The American Cancer Society also announced Thursday it would not continue holding events at the venue, The Chicago Tribune reported. In a statement, the organization said its values and commitment to diversity are critical as it addresses the impact of cancer in every community. "It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations," the statement said.