Gordon Sondland

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Gordon Sondland
Gordon Sondland official photo.jpg
United States Ambassador to the European Union
Assumed office
July 9, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byAnthony L. Gardner
Personal details
Born
Gordon David Sondland

1957 (age 61–62)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Katherine Durant
EducationUniversity of Washington (BA)

Gordon D. Sondland (born 1957)[1] is the United States Ambassador to the European Union.[2] He is also the founder and chairman of Provenance Hotels, co-founder of the merchant bank Aspen Capital. He was a major donor to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Career[edit]

Provenance Hotels[edit]

Sondland’s company, Provenance Hotels, owns and manages hotels throughout the United States, including the Hotel Max and Hotel Theodore in Seattle, Washington; Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Washington; Hotel deLuxe, Hotel Lucia, Sentinel, Dossier, and Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon; The Hotel Preston in Nashville, Tennessee; and Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery in New Orleans, Louisiana.[3]

In 1998, Sondland purchased and redeveloped four hotels in Seattle, Portland, and Denver including Seattle's Alexis Hotel in partnership with Bill Kimpton. Sondland also is a principal in Seattle's Paramount Hotel.[4][5] Through Provenance Hotels, Sondland is developing hotel projects throughout the US, including in Seattle, Hermosa Beach, CA and Los Angeles, CA. Provenance Hotels specializes in adaptations of old buildings such as with the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, WA, which used to be a conference Sheraton, but now includes glass art by 46 artists including Seattle's Dale Chihuly.[6] Provenance is also known for designing or remodeling each hotel around themes that contain elements that relate to a location's history, art, culture, and local businesses.[7]

In 2013, Sondland and Provenance completed a renovation of Portland's historic Governor Hotel, renaming it Sentinel.[8] In December 2015, Sondland and Provenance announced the establishment of the company's first real estate investment fund, Provenance Hotel Partners Fund I. The $525 million fund was created specifically for hotel real estate investment and, at the time of its announcement, was the fourth largest fund ever launched in the state of Oregon.[9]

In 2017, Provenance Hotels expanded its practice of revitalizing and rebranding hotels with locally-inspired art and design as a service to other hoteliers.[10]

United States ambassador to the European Union[edit]

Sondland at the United States–EU Energy Council meeting in Brussels on July 12, 2018

Sondland donated $1 million to the inaugural committee of Donald Trump.[11] On March 12, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Trump selected Sondland to be the next United States ambassador to the European Union.[12] On May 10, 2018, the White House announced that Sondland's nomination had been sent to the U.S. Senate.[13] He was confirmed by the Senate on June 28, 2018.[2] On July 9, 2018, Sondland presented his credentials at the European Commission and to President of the European Council Donald Tusk.[14]

Sondland's nomination received bipartisan support during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 21, 2018.[15] Both Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) testified in support of Sondland.[16] Sen. Wyden suggested that Sondland’s "family history is both fascinating and instructive as to why he has the experience and understanding to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U.," noting how his Jewish parents fled Nazi Germany before coming to the United States.[15][17] Members of the American Jewish community, however, have described Sondland's fealty to Trump as an embarrassment.[18]

As ambassador, Sondland has made strengthening US-EU trade relations a top priority.[19] He has supported using a strong US-EU economic partnership to counter what Sondland has called "economic aggression and unfair trade practices" from China.[20][21] In pursuit of this end, Sondland has promoted the idea of giving European governments access to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to allow them to better screen investors.[19]

Sondland has also pledged to work with the EU to address global security threats.[22] He has been the Trump Administration's lead in talks with EU member countries on the U.S.'s decertification and withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.[23][24] Sondland has repeatedly criticized EU member countries' creation of a "special purpose vehicle" (SPV) to bypass reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran, calling the SPV a "paper tiger."[23][25][26]

Sondland has also been a vocal opponent of the construction of Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which would transport gas across the Baltic Sea to the EU.[27] He has argued that the pipeline would leave the EU dependent upon Russia for its energy needs and increase Russia’s leverage on key U.S. allies in NATO.[28] Sondland argued that "Putin uses energy as a political weapon. The EU should not rely on a bare-chested version of the Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort as a supplier, even if his gas is a bit cheaper."[29] 

Sondland has also worked on data protection rules regarding U.S. compliance with the EU-US privacy shield.[30]

Trump–Ukraine controversy[edit]

Gordon Sondland as part of the U.S. delegation at the inauguration of Volodymyr Zelensky.

On September 26, 2019, the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the unclassified text of the whistleblower complaint regarding the interactions between US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.[31] In this document, Ambassador Sondland, along with the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Ambassador Kurt Volker, were described as having "provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to 'navigate' the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy".[32]

In the complaint released by the US Select committee on Intelligence, Sondland's involvement in President Donald Trump's alleged criminal activity was outlined:

[9/9/19, 12:47:11 AM] Bill Taylor: As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.

[9/9/19, 5:19:35 AM] Gordon Sondland: Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo's of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text If you still have concerns I recommend you give Lisa Kenna or S a call to discuss them directly. Thanks.[33]

After further investigation, The Washington Post concluded that Sondland had "seized control of the Ukraine portfolio to help Trump."[34]

On October 8, the Trump administration attempted to block Sondland from testifying in the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.[35]

Political involvement[edit]

Sondland was a member of the transition team for Oregon Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski's administration and was appointed by Kulongoski to serve on the board of the Governor's Office of Film & Television.[36] He was appointed the commission’s chair in 2002 and has served in that capacity until 2015.[37] During his tenure on the film board, Sondland was instrumental in bringing the production of such television series as Leverage, The Librarians and Grimm to Oregon[38] and presided over the state securing the production of feature-length films such as Wild starring Reese Witherspoon, Thumbsucker starring Tilda Swinton and The Ring Two starring Naomi Watts. At the 2015 Oregon Film Annual Governor’s Awards, Sondland received the "Achievement in Film Service Award" for his role in growing Oregon’s film industry.[39]

Sondland also served as Oregon liaison to the White House. As an advisor to Kulongoski, Sondland suggested appointing Ted Wheeler as state treasurer, which Kulongoski did in 2010.[40] In 2007 President George W. Bush appointed Sondland as a member of the Commission on White House Fellows.[41] Sondland collaborated with President Bush and Jay Leno on an annual charitable auction of an autographed vehicle, with proceeds benefitting the Fisher House Foundation and the George W. Bush Foundation’s Military Service Initiative.[42] He was a bundler for Mit Romney's 2012 Presidential campaign, and in 2012, Sondland was selected to serve as a member of Mitt Romney's presidential transition team.[1]

During the 2016 United States presidential election, Sondland initially supported Donald Trump, but cancelled a fundraiser and repudiated Trump for his attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan.[1] In April 2017, it was revealed that 4 companies registered to Sondland donated $1 million to the Donald Trump inaugural committee.[43][44][45]

Philanthropy[edit]

Sondland serves on the board of trustees at the Oregon Health & Science University foundation[36] and the board of visitors of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.[46] Sondland joined the board of trustees at the Portland Art Museum - one of the oldest and largest art museums in the U.S.[47] - in 1996 and was elected chair of the executive committee in 2009.[48] The Trustee Room, a Contemporary Gallery, and the Grand Staircase at the Portland Art Museum are also named after Sondland and his wife Katherine Durant.[49][50]

Sondland founded the Gordon Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation in 1999, which was established to "help families and boost communities".[51] The Foundation has given millions of dollars to various non-profits including $1,000,000 to the Portland Art Museum to endow permanent access for children under the age of eighteen.[52] The Foundation helped establish a Distinguished Chair in Spine for pediatric orthopedic spine research at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in 2012.[53]

In 2012, the Foundation used the proceeds from the auction of a 2009 Ford F-150 that was previously owned by former President George W. Bush for a donation to the Fisher House Foundation.[54] Sondland is also a National Finance Co-Chairman of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.[55]

Sondland and the Foundation partnered with the River Club in 2013 to provide breakfast for the foreseeable future for students of the Simonga Basic School in Zambia.[56] In 2014, the Foundation gave a $1,000,000 endowment to Oregon Health & Science University to establish the Sondland-Durant Distinguished Research Conference, a cancer research summit to begin in 2016.[57] In 2017, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Duke University was created with the support of the Foundation.[58]

Personal life[edit]

Sondland was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Frieda (Piepsch) and Gunther Sondland.[59] He is married to Katherine Durant, who is the founder and managing partner of Atlas/RTG, a holding company with a portfolio of shopping centers throughout Oregon.[citation needed] Sondland is Jewish.[15][17] Until 2016, Durant was the Chairperson of the Oregon Investment Council, the body that oversees the over $85 billion Public Employees Retirement System Fund.[60] They have two children.

In January 2018, Sondland and Durant were featured as the "January Power Couple" in Oregon Business.[61]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Manning, Jeff (October 3, 2019). "Who is Gordon Sondland? Portland hotel magnate's stunning climb to Trump inner circle lands him in impeachment scandal". OregonLive.com. Retrieved October 4, 2019. By the time Sondland was born in 1957...
  2. ^ a b "PN1945 — Gordon D. Sondland — Department of State". Congress.Gov. June 28, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  3. ^ "Provenance Hotels Collection: Owned and Managed". Provenance Hotels. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  4. ^ Nabbefeld, Joe (February 15, 1998). "Developers buy share of Warshal site". seattletimes.com. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  5. ^ Solomon, Christopher (January 16, 1996). "Alexis Hotel To Double In Size To 109 Rooms". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  6. ^ Haimerl, Amy (February 29, 2008). "A temple of glass - Glass-bottomed boats". Money.cnn.com. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  7. ^ Shankman, Samantha (August 21, 2014). "Provenance Hotels Integrates Local Products to Elevate Guest Experience". Skift. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  8. ^ Smith, Joe. "Governor hotel to get new name: The Sentinel". kgw.com. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  9. ^ Giegerich, Andy (December 8, 2015). "Provenance to buy 4 downtown Portland hotels, launch $525M fund". Portland Business Journal.
  10. ^ Jon Bell (February 22, 2017). "How Provenance is adding hotels without buying them". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  11. ^ Vogel, Kenneth P.; Schmidt, Michael S. (October 3, 2019). "Trump Envoys Pushed Ukraine to Commit to Investigations". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  12. ^ Sondland, Gordon (March 12, 2018). "U.S. Moves to Appoint New Ambassador to EU". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  13. ^ "Five Nominations and Two Withdrawals Sent to the Senate Today". The White House. May 10, 2018. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  14. ^ "U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland". U.S. Mission to the European Union. July 9, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c "EU Nominee Gordon Sondland Testifies Confirmation Hearing". C-SPAN. June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  16. ^ Brevetti, Rossella (June 21, 2018). "Trump Pick for EU Envoy Wants to Cool Trade Tensions". Bloomberg Law. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Friedman, Gordon R. (July 11, 2018). "Portland hotelier who gave $1 million to Trump confirmed as ambassador". The Oregonian.
  18. ^ "Ambassador and Oregon hotelier Gordon Sondland faces backlash at home over role in Ukraine scandal". Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2019. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Taylor, Adam (October 4, 2018). "U.S. ambassador to Europe: Let's take on China together". Washington Post. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  20. ^ Emmott, Robin (September 7, 2018). "We must face China together, new U.S. envoy to Brussels tells EU". Reuters. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  21. ^ Rettman, Andrew (October 4, 2018). "EU and US should hold back China, Trump envoy says". EU Observer. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  22. ^ Banks, Martin (September 25, 2018). "Top EU security chief emphasizes 'shared self-interest' in defense cooperation after Brexit". Defense News. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  23. ^ a b Bravo, Richard (November 5, 2018). "U.S. Lambasts Europe's 'Paper Tiger' Response to Iran Sanctions". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  24. ^ "Donald Trump's man in Brussels extends a hand to the EU". Dw.com. September 25, 2018. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  25. ^ Ghadakpour, Nima (October 17, 2018). "EU-US relations 'like an up-down marriage but intact' – US ambassador". Euronews. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  26. ^ "EU and Iran create 'special vehicle' for trade despite US sanctions". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  27. ^ Radosavljevic, Zoran (October 4, 2018). "US, EU should 'clean the house' and deal with China – US ambassador". EURACTIV. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  28. ^ Macdonald, Alastair (November 13, 2018). "U.S. envoy warns sanctions still an option against Nord Stream 2". Reuters. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  29. ^ "Reliance on Russian gas has big risks for Europe". Financial Times. March 12, 2019.
  30. ^ Stolton, Samuel; Radosavljevic, Zoran (October 3, 2018). "US 'fully compliant' with EU privacy shield, ambassador says". EURACTIV. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  31. ^ Declassified Whistleblower Complaint (PDF) (Report). Washington DC: US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. September 26, 2019. p. 4. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  32. ^ "Full Document: The Whistle-Blower Complaint (annotated version, including cover letter of Inspector General)". The New York Times. September 26, 2019. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  33. ^ "READ: Text messages between US diplomats and Ukrainians released by House Democrats". CNNPolitics. CNN. October 4, 2019. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  34. ^ Miller, Greg; Sonne, Paul; Jaffe, Greg; Birnbaum, Michael (October 4, 2019). "Holding Ukraine hostage: How the president and his allies, chasing 2020 ammunition, fanned a political storm". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  35. ^ Fandos, Nicholas; Schmidt, Michael S. (October 8, 2019). "White House Blocks Sondland Testimony, Signaling Plan to Stonewall Impeachment Inquiry". The New York Times.
  36. ^ a b Law, Steve (December 16, 2010). "'Lottery row' a magnet for crime". Portland Tribune. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  37. ^ "Oregon Film: About". Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  38. ^ George, Milo (May 7, 2014). "The Surprising Success of Portland Film and TV". Backstage. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  39. ^ "The Oregon Film Annual Governor's Awards". The Confluence. January 7, 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  40. ^ Kulongoski, Ted (January 4, 2011). "Letter to Gordon Sondland from Governor Ted Kulongowski dated 1/4/2011". Office of Governor Ted Kulongoski. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  41. ^ "White House Fellowships: Commission Members". The White House. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  42. ^ Marbley, Sanaz (December 12, 2012). "Ford F-150 Owned By President George W. Bush To Be Auctioned At Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale". barrett-jackson.com. Barrett-Jackson.
  43. ^ Fang, Lee (April 21, 2017). "Portland Executive Covertly Donates $1 Million to Inauguration After Being Shamed Over Trump Support". The Intercept. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  44. ^ Balcerzak, Ashley (April 19, 2017). "250 donors shelled out $100k or more for Trump's inauguration, providing 91% of funds". Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  45. ^ "Portland hotelier concealed $1 million donation to Trump inauguration". OregonLive.com. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  46. ^ "Bulletin of Duke University | Sanford School of Public Policy" (PDF). August 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  47. ^ "Museum Facts". Portland Art Museum. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  48. ^ "Kulongoski announces transition team". Bend Bugle. November 26, 2002. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  49. ^ "Gordon D. Sondland & Katherine J. Durant Trustee Room". Portland Art Museum. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  50. ^ "Katherine Durant and Gordon Sondland Gallery". Portland Art Museum. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  51. ^ "Home Page". Gordon Sondland and Katherine J. Durant Foundation. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  52. ^ Terry, Lynne (May 8, 2009). "$50,000 pledge may bring music back to Washington Park". The Oregonian. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  53. ^ Devroy, Neil (October 16, 2012). "Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children Establishes Distinguished Chair in Spine". tsrhc.org (Press release). Retrieved October 6, 2019.
  54. ^ "Ford F-150 Owned By President George W. Bush To Be Auctioned At Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale". Barrett-Jackson. December 12, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  55. ^ "Gordon D. Sondland (Bio)". GordonDSondland.com. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  56. ^ "The River Club Delivers Water to Simonga Health Post in Zambia". Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  57. ^ Hayes, Elizabeth (May 16, 2014). "$1M gift will enable OHSU to bring together best minds for cancer conference". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  58. ^ "Partial List of Beneficiaries". Sondland Durant Foundation. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  59. ^ https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?n=frieda-sondland&pid=179177299&fhid=2475
  60. ^ Sickinger, Ted (December 9, 2016). "Outgoing Oregon Investment Council Chair Submits Her List of Pension Fixes". The Oregonian. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  61. ^ "Power Couple: Gordon Sondland and Katy Durant". Oregon Business. January 2, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2018.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Anthony L. Gardner
United States Ambassador to the European Union
2018–present
Incumbent