DC Bar Owners Sue Trump Over 'Unfair Competition'

They want him to close his new hotel or divest
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2017 4:03 AM CST
Updated Mar 10, 2017 6:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Is it fair for local bars and restaurants in Washington, DC, to have to compete with a restaurant owned by the president of the United States in a building he leases from the federal government? Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts, owners of the Cork Wine Bar, think not, and they're suing the president and the Trump International Hotel he owns through the Trump Organization, NPR reports. "We feel that the president of the United States, owning a hotel, owning restaurants, promoting those restaurants, is unfair and to the detriment of other businesses in the city," Pitts told reporters Thursday. Trump took a short break from campaigning last fall to open the hotel in the taxpayer-owned Old Post Office Building.

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NPR notes that the hotel building's lease says no elected official can be on the lease or benefit from it. "We have events we do here for elected officials, nonprofits, foreign dignitaries, the World Bank, law firms," Gross said, per the Washington Post. But now, she noted, they gravitate toward the nearby Trump hotel, "because they see it as advantageous to them to curry favor with the president." She added that they don't have a problem with competition, but with "the unfairness of it." The lawsuit—dismissed as "ridiculous" and a "publicity stunt" by Eric Trump—doesn't seek money, but calls for Trump to either divest from the hotel or close it while he's president. (Read more President Trump stories.)

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