Officials at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County complained this week after one of Donald Trump’s golf courses hit the charity with $20,000 in charges to hold a fundraiser that was expected to cost little or nothing.
The Palm Beach Post reported in July that the Trump International Golf Club is required to allow charities to use its facilities because the course is built on county land. Each year the charity is selected by a different county commissioner.
This year, County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay selected the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County to receive the benefit. And Trump’s course signed on to sponsor the fundraiser.
But McKinlay learned this week from Assistant County Administrator Todd Bonlarron that Trump’s people were requiring the charity to pay $20,000 in golf and catering fees. In the past, fees had reportedly been capped at $5,000.
In an email this week, Mark Casale, vice president philanthropy for the Boys and Girls Clubs, told McKinlay and Assistant County Administrator Todd Bonlarron that Trump’s course was effectively asking for half of the proceeds from the fundraiser.
“This ‘free’ event is costing us $20,000 between golf and catering fees,” Casale said. “What we had hoped for as far as a ‘net’ income for this event has been cut in half (if we are lucky).”
Bonlarron told Palm Beach Post that it had not “been an issue at all in the past” because the golf course had never charged more than $5,000.
According to Casale’s email, Trump International Golf Club is asking for $6,000 to $7,000 in golf fees and $13,000 in catering fees. The catering estimate had been closer to $20,000 before the charity “removed many of the items on the menu,” he said.
In an interview with the paper on Tuesday, Casale said that he was hopeful that “everything’s going to work out for the betterment of everybody.”
“I just think there was a misunderstanding and we’re all working it out right now,” he explained. “We’re still trying to work out those fees.”
Commissioner McKinlay noted in an email to Palm Beach Post that the unexpected charges “placed me and the charity in a very bad position and I am quite upset by it.”
“None of this was disclosed to me when given the choice to select a charity. I was under the impression the charity was able to host the event without any charges,” McKinlay wrote. “Explain to me how this is supposed to be a benefit to the county?”
“If I were the Boys & Girls Club, I would pull out. How are smaller charities supposed to be able to afford this?”