LOXAHATCHEE GROVES, Fla. — A report on a local dog rescue charity has gone viral because of how closely its leader and a prominent board member is tied to fundraising events held at properties owned by former President Donald Trump.
Big Dog Ranch Rescue President Lauree Simmons was incensed when she read the story and claims the fallout from the publicity threatens her ability to rescue animals in danger.
Simmons is best known for heading into hurricane-ravaged areas to rescue dogs, bringing them to Florida and finding them new homes.
But after a scathing report by the Huffington Post, that all has changed.
"I'm just shocked somebody could stoop so low to do harm to a rescue that did so much work," Simmons said.
The article published this weekend says the ranch is linked to Lara Trump and funneling money into Donald Trump's pocket by holding fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago and two Trump country clubs in Palm Beach County.
Since the story was published, staffers at the ranch have been fielding obscene calls, and one donor withdrew a $100,000 pledge.
"They give us amazing discounted rates, they provide a beautiful venue for us and have gone out of their way to help us raise money," Simmons said. "To cancel our event there, that would be political."
The Huffington Post report claims the fundraisers are "putting money into the pocket of someone who tried to overturn the results of an election he lost and whose incitement led to the deaths of three police officers."
A spokesperson for Buzzfeed, which owns the Huffington Post writes, "Ms. Simmons still has not disputed to HuffPost that Big Dog Ranch Rescue has spent as much as $1.9 million at Mar-a-Lago over the last seven years. … We stand unequivocally behind (the author's) reporting."
Simmons said half the money Big Dog Ranch spent on fundraisers went to the Trump properties.
The watchdog group Charity Navigator adds Big Dog Ranch spends 95 percent of the money raised on its charitable programs.
Simmons said she is considering a lawsuit against the Huffington Post and the author, claiming the story has hurt her ability to raise money and help rescue abandoned dogs.