Open Letter Calls for Cleveland Clinic to Cut Ties with President Trump's Mar-a-Lago

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An open letter is being circulated by a handful of progressive groups urging the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Clinic to reconsider plans to hold next year’s annual fundraiser at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla. The letter, posted on the open writing platform Medium, links to a Google form that identifies Case Western Reserve University as its source. However, a university spokesman was not aware of the letter.

Earlier this year, the Clinic went ahead with its 2017 fundraiser at the resort, saying in an email to Scene that “this year’s event was committed to long before Mr. Trump was elected.” Nearly eight months into Trump’s term and with no contract signed as of yet, the Clinic nevertheless intends to move forward with plans to return to Mar-a-Lago in 2018 to raise money.

When contacted about the open letter, a Clinic representative reiterated that the fundraiser has been held at the resort for the last eight years, “for the sole purpose of raising important funds to purchase medical equipment to support patient care at our Florida facilities.”

The letter takes issue with the symbolic and tangible ramifications of holding the fundraiser at Trump’s Florida resort.

“No matter how convenient or lucrative it may be to do business with the Trump Organization, it is an inherently political act,” the letter reads.

The event could benefit Trump financially. A report from ProPublica earlier this year found that the Trump Organization’s trust agreement allows the president essentially unfettered access to profits from his more than 400 businesses, including Mar-a-Lago.

The letter implies the Clinic is being hypocritical in its financial support of “a politician actively working to decrease access to healthcare and cut billions of dollars in research funding,” presumably referring to Trump. A Politico report last month found that while the Clinic's tax-exempt “$8 billion health system” is apparently thriving, the surrounding Fairfax neighborhood is rife with disease and poverty.

“The Cleveland Clinic prides itself on being fully committed to the best interests of its patients,” the letter continues. “Now is the time to demonstrate that commitment.”

The 1,000 signatures include students from the CWRU and Harvard schools of medicine, Clinic patients, and several retired Clinic physicians. A separate petition along with protests persuaded the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to move its fundraiser next year to The Breakers, another luxury resort in Palm Beach, according to the medical news site STAT.

The Clinic did not say whether it would consider moving its fundraiser elsewhere.

Read the full letter here.

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