Ex-Trump official Sondland's hotel chain gets loan through small-business relief package

Ex-Trump official Sondland's hotel chain gets loan through small-business relief package
© Greg Nash

The hotel chain of former Trump administration official Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTop Democrat slams Trump's new EU envoy: Not 'a political donor's part-time job' Trump names new EU envoy, filling post left vacant by impeachment witness Sondland Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans are prioritizing big chains in coronavirus relief  MORE received a loan through the small-business relief package designed to provide financial assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

The former U.S. ambassador’s hotel chain, Provenance Hotels, received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the Small Business Administration, a spokeswoman confirmed to Bloomberg News on Thursday.

Sondland’s company, is based in Portland, Ore., and has more than a dozen properties. It had previously laid off about 1,000 employees, a spokesperson told the Portland Business Journal, which first reported about the loan last week. The company said it plans to rehire many workers.

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"Now that we have been approved for our SBA PPP loan, we hope to bring back a significant portion of those employees and retain them for as long as possible," a spokesperson for Provenance Hotels told the Journal in an email.

Sondland, a key witness in President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE's impeachment trial, stepped down from his executive role in the hotel company to serve as ambassador to the European Union. He was fired by the Trump administration in February, and plans to reassume his role of chairman of Provenance Hotels in May, the company recently announced.

The former official was a central figure in Trump’s impeachment trial examining efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Davis: 72 hours cementing the real choice for November OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs order removing environmental reviews for major projects | New Trump air rule will limit future pollution regulations, critics say | DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden plan MORE, providing testimony that “everyone was in the loop” about the efforts.

A number of lawmakers have criticized the PPP, with many big restaurant chains receiving loans before smaller businesses. The program ran out of money last week, but the House is scheduled to vote on a bill Thursday that would fund the program with another $320 billion. 

Banks have also been accused of prioritizing businesses that they have worked with longer, leaving smaller businesses to receive money later.

Three companies owned by Marty Bennett, a Dallas hotelier and donor to Trump, received $59 million in aid, Bloomberg reported. The news outlet noted that large firms used a loophole in the stimulus package permitting companies with multiple locations to apply for loans that can change to grants, as long as they keep employees and payrolls at specific levels.