Less than a week after news broke that the Brooklyn Republican Party had asked Sebastian Gorka to be the keynote speaker at its annual gala, the venue advertised by the GOP as being the site of the event has told this paper that the event will not be held there, with the party itself subsequently breaking the news to this paper that it would not be holding the event at all at this point in time.
“On April 26 a posting was placed on social media advertising an event scheduled to take place at Dyker Beach Golf Club on May 16,” American Golf Corporation General Counsel Rand Huguely said. “That posting, which was not made by anyone affiliated with the golf club, was in error. The event described in the posting is not taking place at Dyker Beach, or at any other courses managed by American Golf Corporation in the New York area.”
As for the Brooklyn GOP, “Out of an abundance of caution, focused on fairness to a venue that has been unfairly targeted by those who wish to deny others their First Amendment rights, the Brooklyn GOP event scheduled for mid May at the Dyker Beach Golf Course will not be held,” said Brooklyn GOP Spokesperson Michael Tobman.
“It is truly unfortunate that opponents of free speech, those who have appointed themselves unelected arbiters of what’s appropriate for our shared civic conversation, have forced this decision,” Tobman went on. “Politics, even in an election year, must be more civil. We should be able to disagree without being disagreeable or abusive. The Brooklyn GOP looks forward to holding its event at a different time and place.”
The news that Gorka — a former White House aide and Breitbart News editor, and current contributor at Fox News — would be headlining the event, with President Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump, Jr. as a special guest, had roiled southwest Brooklyn since it became known, with elected officials on the other side of the aisle as well as many local residents blasting the local party’s choice of speaker.
Among the reaction, a Change.org petition was launched by Ridgeite Andrew Gounardes to demand State Senator Marty Golden – who, his staff contended, had nothing to do with scheduling – revoke Gorka’s invitation, citing the “anti-Muslim” media personality’s “anti-Semitic, Nazi past.”
Gounardes is running for the Democratic nomination to oppose Golden in November’s general election. The other Democratic candidate for the post, Ross Barkan, has also been vocal in his outrage against the choice of Gorka as the GOP’s keynote speaker.
Besides demanding that the GOP disinvite Gorka, many of those opposed to his speaking there had asked the golf course to back out of holding the event.
“I commend the owners of the Dyker Beach Golf Course for deciding not to host an event featuring Mr. Gorka,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan, who had previously blasted the GOP’s invitation to someone he said had “been called racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic by his own friends and colleagues.”
“I know it’s not easy to turn away business but they made the right decision and we should all thank them for it,” Brannan added of the venue’s decision.
Local activist Teri Brennan agreed. “I am very happy to hear that Dyker Beach Golf Course responded to community concerns and I look forward to attending events there in the future,” she said. “It is a lovely venue. It is a shame that the Kings County GOP put them in such a difficult position by booking Mr. Gorka in the first place. Their tone deafness is appalling, especially given the diversity of our community.”
Regular dinner tickets for the event had been selling for $200 while VIP slots (including an opportunity to meet Trump, Jr.) were priced at $500. Money from the event would have gone towards funding the group, whose current chair had been strongly supported by Golden and his allies during what turned out to be a protracted battle for control of the Brooklyn GOP between warring factions.
Meaghan McGoldrick contributed reporting to this article.