Marine unit cancels planned Mar-a-Lago event

A West Palm Beach Marine Corps Reserve unit has canceled plans to celebrate the U.S. Marine Corps's anniversary at President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE’s Mar-a-Lago club, according to The Palm Beach Post.

Controversy over the appearance of impropriety forced the cancellation, even though the event would not have involved any discounts or the spending of tax dollars, according to the newspaper. The 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) will instead host the annual birthday ball in its own facility.

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“We went from dinner tables at Mar-a-Lago to picnic tables in a gymnasium,” a senior officer with the 4th ANGLICO and former member of the planning committee told the newspaper on the condition of anonymity. “We can’t plan another ball now.”

U.S. Marine Commandant Gen. David H. Berger reportedly was angry about the potential optics of hosting the event at the president’s club amid allegations from watchdog groups that Trump continues to profit from groups that hold events at the club and seek his time and attention.

The senior officer told the newspaper the unit intended to pay full price for use of the club and that club staff did not approach them about renting it.

“It is our prerogative where we want to hold the ball,” the officer told the Post. “We went to Mar-a-Lago, they didn’t come to us —we did it all by ourselves.”

“We never anticipated somebody would call our integrity into question because we went to such great lengths to make sure we were so transparent,” a senior staff noncommissioned officer told the newspaper. “The optics are always scrutinized.”

The second officer told the Post that unit officials cleared the plan with legal staff and an ethics committee before making arrangements. The unit has historically held its birthday events in golf clubs but said the projected attendance of 700 had outgrown such venues.