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 SondlandThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Biden to mark Tuesday anniversary of George Floyd's death Trump impeachment witness suing Pompeo, State over legal fees America's practice of 'pay-to-play' ambassadors is no joke 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.


"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 TrumpWhat blue wave? A close look at Texas today tells of a different story Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin Trump's former bodyguard investigated in NY prosectors' probe: report 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 BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling 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.