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 Sondland 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 Trump’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 Biden, 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. 

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Gordon Sondland hotels Impeachment Joe Biden Paycheck Protection Program ppp Provenance Hotels Small business

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