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ABC Board Decision on June 20, 2018 Complaint Against Trump International Hotel

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Statement from Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Chairperson Donovan Anderson:

On June 20, 2018, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) received a complaint from attorney Joshua A. Levy on behalf of seven individuals regarding the Trump Old Post Office, LLC, t/a Trump International Hotel, which holds a retailer’s class C hotel license. ABRA also received three additional supplements to the complaint, dated July 10, August 21, and September 6, 2018. In the complaint and its supplements, Mr. Levy requested that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (Board) hold a Show Cause hearing to determine whether the owner of the Trump International Hotel license satisfies the character and fitness requirements for licensure, pursuant to District of Columbia (D.C.) Official Code § 25–301, “General Qualifications for all applicants.”

The complaint and supplements specifically request that the owner of the Trump International Hotel license be ordered to show cause before the Board as to why the license should not be revoked pursuant to §25–301, which states that “before issuing, transferring to a new owner, or renewing a license, the Board shall determine that … the applicant is of good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure.” The complaint and supplements claim that Donald J. Trump is the true and actual owner of the license and cite a number of instances to call into question Trump’s “good character.” While the complaint acknowledges that “the Board’s ‘good character’ investigations typically occur at the time of license application or renewal,” it claims that the “egregious” nature of the conduct of the license’s owner necessitates the initiation of a Show Cause proceeding to review his character and fitness for licensure before renewal.

Upon receipt, the complaint and supplements were sent to ABRA’s Enforcement Division for review. As part of the review process, ABRA investigators conducted a regulatory inspection on the Trump International Hotel to ensure that the licensee is compliant with the law. ABRA investigators did find an alleged sale-to-minor violation that will be placed on the Board’s agenda on September 26, 2018. However, this violation did not have bearing on the efficacy of the complaint.

ABRA was required by law to respond to this complaint within 90 days of receipt, or by September 18, and did so today in a letter addressed to Mr. Levy. The letter conveyed that the Board has decided not to hold a Show Cause hearing regarding the owner of the Trump International Hotel’s fitness for licensure. The Board does not agree with the assumption that a character and fitness review may be initiated at any time. The law pursuant to the §25–301 states that the standards for review of “good character” apply “before issuing, transferring to a new owner, or renewing a license,” and the Board holds that these are the appropriate times to review the question of the fitness. Consequently, the request in the complaint is denied because it cannot be granted as a matter of law.

It is important to note that all hotel license holders in the District are required to apply for renewal of their licenses by March 31, 2019 if they seek to retain them.