A Marine reserve unit planning to hold its annual Marine Corps birthday ball at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, is said to be scrambling for other plans.
Marines in the unit, the 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, or ANGLICO, based out of West Palm Beach, told the Palm Beach Post on Monday that due to “backlash" they had to change plans at the last minute and will now host their event on base.
“We went from dinner tables at Mar-a-Lago to picnic tables in a gymnasium,” a senior ANGLICO official and former member of the ball’s planning committee told the Palm Beach Post on the condition of anonymity.
It had been reported days earlier by the Miami Herald that the unit was planning to hold its 244th birthday ball event at the property. The optics of the unit hosting an official military function at a Trump property may have added fuel to claims that the president has been using his position for personal profit.
“It is our prerogative where we want to hold ball — we went to Mar-a-Lago, they didn’t come to us — we did it all by ourselves," the Marine said.
But, when asked to confirm the cancellation to the Marine Corps Times, Marine reserve spokesman Maj. Roger Hollenbeck released the same statement he did after the initial Miami Herald story.
“We are aware that Marines from 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company are considering celebrating their Marine Corps Birthday Ball at Mar-a-Lago," Hollenbeck’s statement said.
“As is the case every year, birthday ball venues are explored by committee to determine the best available option. 4th ANGLICO is considering many locations for this year’s birthday ball but is not yet committed to any specific venue," Hollenbeck said.
When asked for confirmation, Marines with the unit directed Marine Corps Times back to Hollenbeck.
Members of 4th ANGLICO already were on their way to pay a 25 percent deposit for the location Sept. 20, they told the Palm Beach Post. The resort was charging the unit full price for the location, they said. Because the ball is funded by Marines buying tickets on a sliding scale based on rank, no tax dollars would have gone directly to Mar-a-Lago.
The event, expecting about 700 guests, had outgrown other local venues, Marines told the Post.
Just a few weeks earlier, it was reported that an Air Force C-17 crew stayed at Trump’s Turnberry golf resort in Scotland, causing speculation that the Air Force was being used to keep the location profitable.
Trump also caught heat in late August after putting a bid to host the G7 summit at one of his Miami-area resorts. The president insisted he would not profit personally from the selection.