Far-right group warning of Islamist infiltration to hold banquet at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club

President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.
President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Getty Images

A far-right group that believes Islamists are infiltrating the US government will hold a banquet Saturday night at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, according to a permit issued for the event.

The group, the Center for Security Policy, has also spread the false idea that former president Barack Obama is a Muslim and alleged that mainstream Muslim organizations in the United States are secretly agents of anti-American jihad.

The group has rented a ballroom for Saturday at Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Fla., for its annual Freedom Flame Award Dinner. The 200-person event, named after the group’s flaming-torch symbol, previously was held in New York City and Washington.


This year, it was relocated. ‘‘This is our first-ever event in Palm Beach,’’ a center official wrote to the town of Palm Beach in an e-mail obtained through a public-records request.

The old Mar-a-Lago is gone. This is the new Mar-a-Lago.

Once, Trump’s club was a major player in the Palm Beach social season — renting out its ballrooms for large and lucrative charity galas. Then, in 2017, Trump said there were ‘‘very fine people on both sides’’ in response to violence that broke out between participants of a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and counterprotesters.

At Mar-a-Lago, many of his best customers quit. Two years later, most are still gone.

In their place, Mar-a-Lago has attracted some Trump superfans, who have thrown banquets and other events to help the president’s bottom line. And it has attracted new customers aligned with Trump’s hard-right politics.

Saturday’s event illustrates the conflict inherent in that kind of business. At this gala, a conservative group that wants to shape Trump’s public policy will also become his private customer.

The permit says the Center for Security Policy event will cost $53,000. When The Washington Post called the center to ask about the dinner, a man who answered declined to give details.


‘‘It’s a private event,’’ the man said.

The Post had dialed an extension for Fred Fleitz, a former Trump administration official who is the president and chief executive of the Center for Security Policy, but the man declined to say whether he was Fleitz.

‘‘It’s a private event,’’ the man repeated.

Multiple e-mails and calls to officials at the organization were not returned.

The White House declined to comment for this article, and the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

The Center for Security Policy, founded by a former Reagan administration official named Frank Gaffney, has ties with Trump and his administration. As a candidate, Trump cited the center’s research while proposing to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

But the center is also seeking to shape future Trump administration policies. It has warned, for instance, that Trump should be more skeptical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — who the center says is too close to Islamist groups.

‘‘Gaffney is one of the key figures in the Islamophobia industry,’’ said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said this dinner could give the center a way to further its influence with Trump: ‘‘They get the influence they seek by handing him money, and he gets the money,’’ Hooper said.

Earlier this year, ACT for America, a group that has labeled Islam a ‘‘cancer’’ and warned of plots by Muslims, Democrats, and the media, also booked a banquet at Mar-a-Lago. But after the Miami Herald reported on the event, the club canceled it. The Trump Organization has not explained why.


Trump is not expected to attend the Center for Security Policy’s banquet on Saturday.

Instead, he is expected to arrive at Mar-a-Lago around Thanksgiving for his first visit of the winter social season in Palm Beach.

There are no signs that Trump’s club is in financial trouble. This year, for instance, it filed its annual applications to hire 80 foreign workers as temporary housekeepers, waiters, and cooks — slightly more than last year.

Still, Mar-a-Lago was hurt by the abrupt departures in 2017 of 22 charities that rented its space. The club’s revenue fell by 10 percent last year, according to federal financial disclosures.

This year, Trump’s club has added more events for its existing members, who already paid up to $200,000 to join. For instance, the club has added a ‘‘Gods & Goddesses Toga Party’’ by the pool in January, according to a members-only magazine obtained by The Post. Tickets are $135 per guest.