Melania Trump event cancelled over fundraising questions

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Two weeks after former first lady Melania Trump blasted reports that a charity meant to benefit from her appearance at an April fundraising event was not registered with Florida authorities as “inaccurate, misleading, and outright incorrect,” that same event has been cancelled.

According to the New York Times, the “Tulips & Topiaries” event she had announced in January will no longer take place because Florida officials found that Whip Fundraising — the company she had brought on to help solicit donations — had not followed state law by registering with authorities.

Erin Moffet, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, told the Times the company was not “registered as a professional solicitor or a fund-raising consultant”. She added that any funds raised for the April event will now be donated to a properly registered Florida charity called GenJustice and said the state’s investigation into Ms Trump’s fundraiser was now closed.

Last month, Ms Trump issued a statement in response to reporting by the New York Times on the event, which was meant to benefit a scholarship programme called “Fostering the Future,” which in turn was a part of her push to continue the “Be Best” initiative she began during her husband’s term in the White House.

The Times found that the Florida Consumer Services Division had not received registration paperwork from any organisation with either name, despite Florida law mandating any “charitable organisation or sponsor” to register with the state before engaging in any solicitation for donations.

A Florida consumer services spokesperson told the Times the agency was “currently investigating” to determine if the event involved “an entity operating in violation of Chapter 496, Florida Statutes”.

At the time, Ms Trump lashed out at the reporting, which she called “inaccurate, misleading, and outright incorrect,” and blamed the press for having looked into whether the fundraiser she was set to appear at was being organised according to Florida law.

“The media has created a narrative whereby I am trying to act in an illegal or unethical manner. That portrayal is simply untrue and adversely affects the children I hope to support,” she said, adding that anyone who, in her words, “attacks” her initiatives or “create[s] the appearance of impropriety” were “quite literally dream killers”.

In a statement to the Times, the former first lady claimed that the event was not cancelled but was merely postponed to “a future date”. She also claimed that she was a mere participant in the event and not an organiser of it.