An anti-Muslim group is planning to hold a fundraiser at President Donald Trump’s private club, Mar-a-Lago, getting a permit only days before the Trump Organization canceled another such hate group from holding a gala there.
The Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based think tank whose founder erroneously called former President Barack Obama a Muslim, received a permit from the City of Palm Beach on Oct. 4, city officials said. The group wants to hold its event on Nov. 23, the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
It received the permit two days before the Trump Organization said the anti-Muslim group ACT for America would “absolutely not” be allowed to hold its annual gala at the Palm Beach club. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated ACT as a “hate group.”
ACT for America was advertising tickets on its website for the Mar-a-Lago gala, with seats starting at $1,500. The Trump Organization’s statement about the group not having its gala there came after the Miami Herald had published a story about the event.
The Center for Security Policy’s founder is Frank Gaffney. The Anti-Defamation League said Gaffney has promoted “a number of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories,” including the claim the U.S. government has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
On Thursday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, called on the Trump Organization to cancel the event.
“The Trump Organization made the right decision to cancel a previous event hosted by an anti-Muslim hate group, and we call them to do so again,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw in a statement. “The President of the United States should not profit from a group that makes its money by demonizing an entire faith and whose founder traffics in widely-debunked conspiracy theories, including that former President Obama is Muslim and that mosques want to destroy western civilization from within.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Center for Security Policy as a hate group.
“The Center for Security Policy has gone from a respected hawkish think tank focused on foreign affairs to a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States,” the SPLC said on its website.
The Center for Security Policy did not immediately respond to a call and email for comment.
The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to an email and a telephone call seeking comment.
Fred Fleitz, the center’s president and CEO, told the Palm Beach Post that accusations about the Center being anti-Muslim is “outrageous.” He also said that although it opposes “radical Islam,” the group works with Muslims to combat terrorism.
“We are honored to have this event at Mar-a-Lago,” Fleitz told the Palm Beach Post.