President Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, which lost 19 charity events to cancellation amid controversy about his political rhetoric, has booked a new gala event — put on by a small, previously dormant charity that was encouraged to use the site by Trump's sister.
Young Adventurers is planning to hold its "Safari Night" gala at the president's club on Jan. 26, according to Terry Bomar, the charity's president.
According to a permit application that the charity submitted to the town of Palm Beach in September, the event will draw 100 people and cost $40,000. That's smaller than many Mar-a-Lago dinner functions. Many of the departed galas were expected to draw more than 200 people and cost at least $100,000.
But the event is a big step up for Young Adventurers, a youth-mentoring program that last held fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago about 10 years ago.
Florida state records show the group was not registered as an active charity between May 2008 and Aug. 30 of this year, when it applied to be reinstated. In that application, the group said it had raised no money and spent no money last year, according to the state Department of Agriculture, which regulates charities.
"Inactive for all 2016," its filing says.
But Bomar said his plans changed when he ran into Elizabeth Trump Grau, one of the president's two sisters. Trump Grau has a home in Palm Beach, according to news reports.
During their conversation last year, Bomar said Trump Grau recalled his group's past fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago.
"She said, 'I'd do it again, if I was you,' " Bomar recalled in a phone interview on Thursday. "She said, 'If you want to do it, I'll try to help any way I can.' "
"I said, 'You know what, maybe let's do it again this year,' " Bomar recounted.
Reached by phone, Trump Grau declined to comment. Trump Organization officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In late August, after other charities had begun to pull out of Mar-a-Lago, Bomar's charity board resolved to hold an event at the club, according to the permit application.
Bomar said his decision had been partly influenced by the other charities' cancellations.
"I didn't necessarily agree with the others pulling away, and I said, 'It's a wonderful place, and it's a wonderful family,' " he said. "I'd rather show the support for Mar-a-Lago and for the president."
He said that Trump Grau and her husband, Jim Grau, had agreed to sponsor the event as members of Mar-a-Lago. They are also listed on the charity's website as "honorary chairs" of the event.
But Bomar said Trump Grau had not made any donations to his organization. He said that other donors had already put up money to pay for the deposit at Mar-a-Lago.
Tickets for the event start at $600 for an individual ticket, the event website says, and go up to $10,000 for a "diamond benefactor sponsor" status, which comes with a two-night stay in one of the club's guest rooms.
Bomar said he hopes to clear $60,000 from the event. He has a variety of uses in mind for the money: building a school in Kenya, feeding the hungry in Bulgaria and starting a reality-TV show in the United States that will show "average kids going after big adventures or helping kids less fortunate."
This winter's social season at Mar-a-Lago is a change from years past. After Trump's controversial statements about white-supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, the club lost the business of mainstays of the Palm Beach charity circuit such as the Red Cross, the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity and the Salvation Army.
In their place, Trump's club has attracted some new clients, including several aligned with his politics. They include the Republican attorneys general, a charity affiliated with televangelist Pat Robertson and a gathering organized by presidential superfans called the "Trumpettes USA."
With the addition of the Young Adventurers gala, the club appears to have at least 12 large events booked for this year, according to a search of permit data and social calendars, down from the 25 scheduled before Charlottesville.