Date: May 2018
Location: Ambassador to the EU, based in Brussels, Belgium
What: President Trump has nominated Gordon Sondland, a Portland hotel magnate and major donor to the president, to be ambassador to the European Union.
The nomination, announced by the White House on Thursday, makes Sondland, 60, the Oregonian who would have the highest-ranking position within the Trump administration if confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Sondland’s nomination comes more than a year after he gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee. The money was donated by companies Sondland owns but that do not directly bear his name.
The hotelier had long been considered for an ambassadorship, as big donors to presidential candidates often are. The Oregonian reported in September 2017 that a State Department investigator had visited Sondland’s Portland neighborhood to vet him for a security clearance, a sign he was in line for a diplomatic post.
The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Sondland was being considered for the E.U. job, a pivotal ambassadorship given ever-rising tensions between the U.S. and Europe. It’s unclear what experience Sondland has with European political affairs, if any.
Sondland declined to comment Friday. Representatives of Oregon’s U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, did not return messages seeking comment.
Who: Gordon Sondland, who has residences in Oregon and Washington state, is founder and chief executive of Provenance Hotels, which owns and operates The Heathman Hotel, the Sentinel, The Benson, Hotel deLuxe, Hotel Lucia, and the Dossier.
He previously ran a commercial loans bank, Aspen Capital, sat on the U.S. Bancorp advisory board, served as a finance executive within the Republican National Committee, and advised Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s transition team.
Sondland is married to Katy Durant, the former head of the board that controls investments of Oregon’s public pension fund.
Trump and Sondland have had a complicated relationship. Sondland originally backed Jeb Bush for the GOP nomination, and held a fundraiser for the former Florida governor at his West Hills home and sat on his Jewish leadership advisory team.
Later, after Bush sank in the polls, Sondland was listed as host of a Seattle fundraiser for Trump.
Sondland and his business partner backed away from supporting the TV star turned candidate after he began a feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, parents of a Muslim-American soldier killed in action, saying through a spokeswoman at the time that they cannot “support this candidacy.”
Sondland has been active in Portland’s business and hospitality market for at least 30 years, when he bought the historic Benson Hotel in 1988.
Sondland later fought efforts to build a hotel at the Oregon Convention Center. The tussle spanned a decade and three lawsuits until Metro, the regional government, cut a deal with Sondland where he dropped his lawsuits in exchange for being given a high-value parking lot near the convention hall with rights to build anything he wants on it, including a competing hotel.
THPT Comment: Glad we’re not political! we just report politics where it might have an effect on hotel investment, or in this case it showcases where hoteliers figure in running the country/the world!
First Seen: Hotel Online