Despite public protests against a planned fundraiser for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, billionaire Stephen Ross and real estate developer Joe Farrell hosted a crowd of 500 in the Hamptons Friday night.
During the fundraiser at a lavish estate in the popular New York vacation destination on Long Island, Trump reportedly made light of the backlash.
“Steve Ross got into a little bit of trouble this week, I said, ‘Steve, welcome to the world of politics!” Trump told the crowd, according to the New York Post.
Ross owns two popular luxury fitness brands, Equinox and SoulCycle, and customers of both companies threatened to boycott when news of Ross’s fundraiser became public knowledge. In separate statements, both Equinox and SoulCycle said that no company profits were used to fund the event or Trump’s campaign.
In response to the controversy, Ross told Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, “While some prefer to sit outside of the process and criticize, I prefer to engage directly and support the things I deeply care about.”
Tickets for the fundraiser sold for as much as $100,000 and the New York Post reported that Trump managed to raise $12 million from the event.
When his address turned to gun control and the recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, Trump reportedly told the audience he had spoken with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer about implementing more strenuous background checks for people purchasing guns.
The Post reported that Trump criticized the media for accusing him of racism in the wake of the shootings. The gunman in El Paso acknowledged that he was targeting Mexican people during the shooting, and many top Democrats and presidential candidates have faulted Trump’s rhetoric against Latino immigrants entering the country at the Mexican border.
Trump went on to tout his foreign policy moves in Asia, including his relationships with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The New York Post reported that Trump mimicked Japanese and South Korean accents as he spoke to the crowd in the Hamptons.
The New York Post also noted several recognizable attendees at the fundraiser, including cabinet secretaries Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, and billionaire philanthropist Ronald Lauder.