Congress

Sondland’s hotel business getting backlash over his role in Trump-Ukraine affair

US ambassador to the EU did not show up for testimony this week, prompting Oregon Rep. Blumenauer to call for boycott of his Portland-based chain

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, addresses the media at the US embassy in Romania in September. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)

The attorney for Gordon Sondland, a top Trump administration diplomat at the heart of the House's impeachment investigation into the president, criticized Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer for urging people to boycott the diplomat’s Portland-based hotel chain.

“Congressman Blumenauer’s irresponsible attempt to hurt a homegrown business that supports hundreds of jobs in our local economy is just shameful and ought to outrage all Oregonians,” Jim  McDermott, Sondland’s lawyer, said in a statement to multiple local news outlets this week.

Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, is the founder and proprietor of the upscale Provenance Hotels chain, which has six properties in Portland.

Blumenauer, a 12-term Democrat from East Portland and its surrounding suburbs, called for visitors to Portland to boycott Sondland’s hotels “until he fulfills his duty as a citizen to testify and turn over all relevant documents” for the impeachment probe.

“Anyone who cares about American should not do any business or stay at any of Gordon Sondland’s hotels,” Blumenauer said Wednesday. “Nobody is above the law. Mr. Sondland and the entire Trump administration need to be reminded of that.”

Sondland had been scheduled to testify before a closed-door meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning, but the State Department blocked him from appearing before the committee at the 11th hour, after Sondland had traveled from across the Atlantic for the deposition.

Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters that he received only an hour-and-a-half notice from State Department lawyers that the ambassador would not appear.

Sondland’s lawyers indicated on Friday that the ambassador would defy the State Department’s orders and comply with House Democrats’ subpoena for his testimony about his role aiding Trump’s agenda to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Sondland will testify on Thursday, although he cannot hand over documents related to his official business, the lawyers said, since the release of those documents is at the discretion of the State Department.

McDermott did not take kindly to Blumenauer implying that Sondland was responsible for his no-show before the House Intelligence Committee this week and targeting the ambassador’s businesses.

“Congressman Blumenauer would do well to learn and understand the laws that Congress has passed before he makes reckless and destructive threats that would only economically injure hardworking Oregon employees,” McDermott said.

Sondland is already facing backlash at home in Portland for his involvement in the Trump-Ukraine affair, with people posting on social media that they are avoiding his hotel bars for happy hour and crossing them off as possible wedding venues.

The hotel chain’s ice cream vendor, Portland-based Salt & Straw, has severed ties with the properties after seven years of doing business together, OregonLive reported.

“We are very thoughtful with our relationships and, after seven years, have determined it is best to go in a different direction,” the ice cream company told The Oregonian/OregonLive in a statement.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.