DETROIT - A spokeswoman for Dan Gilbert's real estate arm said Monday that the billionaire owner of Quicken Loans was not the host of a private fund-raiser for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held amid high security and secrecy in a Gilbert-owned skyscraper in downtown Detroit last week.
Bedrock spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said the Friday evening event inside the Chrysler House was hosted by the Republican National Committee, which paid to rent the space.
She could not nor would not say whether he or his wife, Jennifer Gilbert, were in attendance or met with Trump during his visit. She also didn't say whether Dan Gilbert supports Trump's candidacy.
Gilbert, the Quicken Loans chairman and Cleveland Cavaliers owner, has not publicly endorsed either Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton for the presidency, but has contributed financially to other Republicans.
On Monday, a small but vocal group of protesters marched outside the Detroit headquarters of Quicken Loans at lunchtime. The dozen or so protesters approached the entrance to One Campus Martius and asked to meet with Gilbert. They were told by police that Gilbert would not be appearing.
Several carried placards with slogans such as "Gilbert = Trump" and "Greedy rich white men always have each other's back." There was one counter-protester whose sign said, "Dan Gilbert making Detroit great again."
Friday's fund-raiser was held on the lower level of the Chrysler House building at the corner of Fort and Griswold. The building is owned by Gilbert's real estate firm, Bedrock Detroit, and the interior design business where the event took place, dPop, is run by his wife.
Among those attending the fund-raiser were state Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and state Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Even if Gilbert didn't host the fund-raiser, the fact that he allowed a Trump event on his property is tantamount to supporting the New York businessman's campaign, said protester Sam Riddle, a Detroit activist with the National Action Network.
“If you provide the venue, if you set the table, you don’t have to sit down and eat," Riddle said. "When you give them room to hold that fund-raiser ... you’re engaging in enabling a racist like Donald Trump.”
The protesters also expressed strong anti-wealth and anti-gentrification sentiments in denouncing the fund-raiser.
"It’s just showing more and more that it’s going to be the rich people against everybody else," said Renla Session, 60, of Detroit.
The one pro-Gilbert placard was carried by a man who would not give his name. Asked how Gilbert is "making Detroit great again," he replied, "Look around you. You're standing downtown, unarmed in Detroit. You're doing good."
Gilbert's Cleveland Cavaliers play at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, the site of this summer's Republican National Convention. The Cavaliers lease the arena and are in charge of managing all events there.
A spokesman for Trump's Michigan campaign had no comment, and a Republican National Committee representative didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
Trump was whisked into the Friday fund-raiser via a private entrance in the adjoining former Federal Reserve bank building, also owned by Gilbert, after appearing at a rally in Novi. Police cars and Secret Service agents ringed both buildings in Detroit's financial district, just west of Campus Martius park.