COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A leading U.S. hospital pulled its annual fundraiser from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort on Thursday, reversing course after initially resisting pressure from health professionals and others over the president's support for repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting federal budget dollars to medical research.
The Cleveland Clinic said in a statement that it decided not to hold the event there after "careful consideration" of a number of issues, with a spokeswoman adding only that the deliberations were "all encompassing."
"We thank the staff of Mar-a-Lago for their service over the years," the clinic said.
Spokeswoman Eileen Sheil had said last week that the event was not political and that donors and executives discussed it and agreed Mar-a-Lago met the organization's needs.
The fundraiser has raised $700,000 to $1 million annually to expand programs and purchase equipment for the hospital's Florida facility. It has been held at Mar-a-Lago the last eight years.
But, citing Trump's positions, more than 1,100 doctors, nurses, medical students and other Ohio residents signed a public letter of concern over the choice of venue.
The letter said the hospital's support for the Trump Organization was unacceptable "because it 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."
One doctor who signed said Trump's approach to medicine defies the hospital's core principles for diversity, integrity, research and facts.
Sandy Theis, executive director of the liberal policy group ProgressOhio, one of several organizations behind the letter, said the hospital's decision shows "the resistance is working."
"I applaud The Cleveland Clinic for cancelling their gala at Mar-a-Lago and letting President Trump know that bigotry and racial violence have no place in America," she said in a statement.
The American Red Cross faced similar pushback in January, when demonstrators rallied outside its annual fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago as the worldwide humanitarian relief organization was offering aid to those affected by Trump's moratorium on the U.S. refugee program.