Sondland's hotel chain in crossfire: Blumenauer faces ethics complaint

An ethics complaint has been filed against Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. Gordon Sondland’s involvement with Provenance Hotels, a Portland-based company, caused the congressman to call for a boycott of the hotel chain. Now the company’s president is calling the hyper-partisan move a “politically motivated campaign of intimidation.”

Sondland is the United States Ambassador to the European Union. He is the founder and chairman of Provenance Hotels. He was a major donor to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration. Sondland is in the middle of Trump’s impeachment inquiry over his text messages about an alleged quid pro quo offered by President Trump to Ukrainian President Zelensky. Rep. Blumenauer called for a boycott of the hotel chain in retaliation against Sondland heeding the instructions from State Department against testifying. Blumenauer issued a statement and also called for a boycott on Twitter.

“Anyone who cares about America should not do any business or stay at any of Gordon Sondland’s hotels. Not until he fulfills his duty as a citizen to testify and turn over all relevant documents to the House of Representatives,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “Nobody is above the law. Mr. Sondland and the entire Trump administration need to be reminded of that.”

Progressive activists took notice and complied with Blumenauer’s call for a boycott.

The ambassador’s appearance on Capitol Hill last week was blocked by the State Department at the last minute. Blumenauer was triggered and tweeted about a boycott in retaliation. Sondland agreed to testify Thursday in compliance with a congressional subpoena and Blumenauer was quick to take credit for that decision. He fights.

An ethics complaint has been filed against Blumenauer for what appears to be a blatant politically motivated action against a company and one that will harm its 1,100 employees.

The complaint filed by Provenance Hotels alleges Blumenauer has improperly used his position to threaten “economic harm” to a company and unlawfully threatened “reprisal” versus a federal official, according to a copy of the complaint posted on Twitter Saturday morning by a Provenance employee.

The company is also sharing a letter written to Provenance employees by Bashar Wali, the company’s president, calling the boycott call a “politically motivated campaign of intimidation.

“Today, we are being targeted. Who will be next? That’s why we are pursuing this Congressional ethics complaint: to call attention to these tactics, defend your jobs and protect those who may be targeted in the future,” Wali wrote.

Provenance Hotels operates six hotels in Portland, three in Washington state, two in New Orleans and one in Nashville. According to Ms. Carmichael, a spokesperson for Provenance Hotels, Sondland is one of 100+ investors in the company. He relinquished his role in running the company when he became Ambassador to the European Union.

This is what politically motivated retaliation looks like. The 1,100 jobs in the balance of ordinary working people trying to keep food on the table for their families may be collateral damage of a Trump deranged politician’s unethical actions. Boycotts are one thing, boycotts called by American politicians against American companies is unacceptable and unethical behavior.