The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump fundraisers in Hamptons expected to raise $10 million, GOP officials say

Stephen M. Ross, who owns the Miami Dolphins, is holding a fundraiser for President Trump.
Stephen M. Ross, who owns the Miami Dolphins, is holding a fundraiser for President Trump. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

A pair of high-dollar fundraisers scheduled for Friday in the Hamptons are expected to raise about $10 million for President Trump’s reelection and the Republican Party, GOP officials said Thursday, despite pressure from those boycotting the businesses of one of the hosts of the fundraisers.

One of the planned events, set to be held at the Southampton home of billionaire real estate developer Stephen Ross and his jewelry designer wife, Kara, attracted controversy after The Washington Post reported on the event earlier this week. The fundraiser is set to charge up to $250,000 for a private roundtable, photo and lunch with the president.

News of the gathering prompted a boycott of two prominent luxury fitness brands affiliated with Ross’s company: Equinox and SoulCycle. It also drew criticism from a player for the Miami Dolphins, the National Football League franchise Ross owns.

Critics of the president contend that Ross’s support of Trump is inconsistent with the values of equality and racial diversity promoted by Ross’s company and nonprofit.

Republican National Committee officials said the fundraisers will go on despite the backlash and that Trump is set to attend. They estimated they would raise about $10 million between both Hampton events. Ross is expected to be at the event held at his home.

Ross’s company did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. In a statement Wednesday, Ross said he has known Trump for 40 years but does not agree with the president on everything.

On Thursday, a list of lifestyle, fitness and restaurant brands affiliated with the Related Companies, of which Ross is chairman and founder, was no longer available on the company’s website. Some of those brands sought to distance themselves from the event or urged Ross to reconsider his support for Trump.

“Steve was the only potential investor who believed in the vision of what Momofuku could be and offered us the freedom to seek that out,” said celebrity chef David Chang, founder of the upscale restaurant chain, which is associated with Ross’s company. Chang, a vocal Trump critic, made his remarks in a podcast message Thursday. “Nevertheless, we’re on the wrong side here.”

Chang urged Ross to “reconsider hosting this fundraiser … It frightens many of the people that work for you, and it contradicts what I hope to accomplish by taking your money in the first place.”

The controversy spread to the academic world. The dean of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, named for the billionaire, sent a letter to alumni and others saying the school does not support any political fundraiser and that the institution “reject[s] all attempts to divide our community.”

Meanwhile, other fitness brands sought to capi­tal­ize on the fallout from the boycotts, offering free workout classes on Friday for those who canceled their memberships with Equinox and SoulCycle.

Since Wednesday, SoulCycle instructors posted on social media urging members against canceling their memberships.

“Boycotting a company to spite an already-wealthy investor with a vast portfolio is unlikely to impact him,” read a message that instructors circulated on Instagram. “It is much more likely to negatively impact the staff of that company … who are amazing at what they do and reliant on their income from their work at these companies.”

Several senior members of the administration, Republican Party and campaign are scheduled to appear at the fundraisers, as are some Trump family members, according to invitations obtained by The Post.

Another fundraiser is scheduled for Friday at the Bridgehampton home of Joe Farrell, a New York real estate developer. Tickets for that event are priced at $5,600 to $35,000 per couple.

Money raised at the two fundraisers in the Hamptons will go toward Trump Victory, a fundraising committee for the Trump 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee.