Trump Lacks Character for His Hotel to Keep Its Liquor License


This is beautiful:

The Trump International Hotel in Washington shouldn't be allowed to serve alcohol because the hotel's ultimate owner, President Donald Trump, isn't of "good character," a group of religious leaders and former judges said in a complaint.

The group asked Washington's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to investigate Trump and ultimately revoke his namesake hotel's license to serve liquor. [...]

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would have had to determine that Trump was of good character when it issued a liquor license to the hotel, a review of the board's rules suggests. Max Bluestein, a spokesman for the beverage board, said the board's enforcement division was reviewing the complaint.

Trump's offenses, according to the complaint, include associating with people convicted of major crimes; accusations of sexual assault; lying; and a general lack of integrity. The complainants say that the allegations and evidence demonstrates that Trump fails to meet the beverage board's requirement that only people of "good character" qualify for the right to sell alcohol in Washington.

Funny story: Under DC law, anyone convicted of a felony is also banned from owning a liquor license.

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17 Responses:

  1. Michael says:

    How does this work legally? Wouldn't the corporation who owns the Hotel hold the license, or in lieu of it, whoever the registered director of the company is (which I presume wouldn't be Trump himself)?

    Not from the US, so not sure how exactly liquor licenses are assigned with regards to premise vs. ownership vs. management.

    • jwz says:

      It varies from state to state, but in DC (and California) the owner of a liquor license must be a person, not a corporation; and the owner of the business.

      (5) Except in the case of an application for a solicitor’s or manager’s license, the applicant is the true and actual owner of the establishment for which the license is sought, and he or she intends to carry on the business for himself or herself and not as the agent of any other individual, partnership, association, limited liability company, or corporation not identified in the application.

  2. Jacob from Upstate NY says:

    Setting aside Trump for a moment, when one thinks about this complaint, does it not show how rediculous the whole liquor license process is?
    The fact that even for a huge multi-national conglomerate, liquor licenses need to be held by an individual owner “of good moral character” is kind of stupid. Why should a liquor license depend on anything other than the business following the appropriate laws on taxes and dispensing liquor only to people who are allowed by law to consume it?
    These kind of morals clauses in liquor licenses are a leftover from America’s puritanical past, and nowadays exist only as a tool for bureaucracy to bludgeon businesses with, and anybody can file a BS complaint against a business owner they don’t like for whatever reason. And then the owner has to spend time and money defending against a baseless claim.
    So one might enjoy the government bludgeon being used frivolously against Trump (and we all know this is frivolous, no matter how loathsome Trump might be), but that bludgeon swings both ways, and it ain’t so much fun when it’s used on you.

    • Nick Lamb says:

      Booze is remarkably dangerous. Humans insist on abusing it anyway, so prohibition isn't a successful strategy, but that doesn't mean throwing up our hands and letting businesses exploit that as much as they like without concern for the consequences.

      The UK requires Premises Licenses for a whole bunch of things, putting on a play, dancing, sports, anything which causes big groups to gather somewhere for entertainment pretty much needs a license to authorise it. But only drinking brings into play a need for a personal license, because booze is so dramatically problematic and somebody needs to answer for that.

      Around here the ice cream parlours and the bars kick people out at pretty similar times (bars run later at the weekend, ice cream parlours on week days) and both groups are loud, maybe drop some extra trash, minor social nuisances that mean they need e.g. signs saying "Sssh! Please consider our neighbours" and have to send staff to clean up outside during closing. But only the bars mean fights breaking out, police called, vomit and blood on the pavement, ambulances, and disruption that trickles out into residential streets. So unsurprisingly the DPS (personal license holder) for a new bar can expect some pretty stiff opposition from residents and the police unless they've got a solid explanation of how they aren't making this worse whereas somebody opened another ice cream place two minutes from me and it was no trouble.

      The presumption is that if your business primarily sells drink, your patrons will get drunk, and drunk people are trouble, it's not even hard to figure out.

      • Jacob from Upstate NY says:

        Did you miss the part where I said that liquor license holders need to be responsible for following the laws about dispensing? By all means, if a bar fails to follow the laws, there needs to be sanction, and the same goes for all businesses: follow the laws that apply to your business or face the consequences. But nobody cares if the guy applying for an ice cream license personally loves puppies, little children, and goes to church every Sunday, and you can’t ask the government to revoke the ice cream license because you don’t like the character of the guy who holds it. And just because a liquor license might be owned by a corporation doesn’t mean that nobody is accountable for legal violations. There’s always someone who is responsible for practices. If a megacorp food establishment serves tainted food because of improper sanitary practices, let’s say, they don’t get a free pass because the license is held by a corporation. Someone in the location is ultimately responsible for sanitation and that’s the guy who will take the fall for failure to comply. Why must a bar be different?
        And if booze is such a huge social evil, then it should be prohibited in the same way we prohibit opiods, marijuana, and other “hard drugs”.

      • Jacob Newman says:

        Bottom line: if the bar owner follows the dispensing laws, tax code, all the other regulations, and keeps the rowdies in line, what does it matter about his personal character? He follows the laws applicable to his license.
        And if his character is so deficient that he’s violating laws unrelated to his bar business, then he should be prosecuted for those crimes and not be running any business at all.
        It’s a very bad thing for government to be able to go after you because someone doesn’t like the way you look, or worse, think.

    • jwz says:

      If I have ever said anything in my life to indicate that I think that this country's liquor licensing regime is in any way reasonable, equitable, logical or sane, I have not made myself clear.

      However, when attempting to take down* a mobster, you use any legal means at your disposal. Because they will not voluntarily limit themselves to legal means.

      * Or in this case "mildly inconvenience".

      • Jacob from Upstate NY says:

        That’s the point: this is a BS complaint that won’t accomplish jack, it’s the whole idea that someone can file a complaint with a licensing board that has nothing at all to do with the operation of the business, and that complaint, irrelevant as it may be, can trigger an investigation. And if that complaint were to be made against someone without the near infinite resources of an organization like Trump Multinational Syndicate, LLC, say, someone like you, you’d be hassled out of business.
        Hell, Trump might be an orange cacodaemon, but my complaint isn’t about hastling his business, but about the whole notion that such an irrelevant complaint might be taken seriously by a license board anywhere at anytime against anyone. You want to unleash the power of the faceless bureaucracy/surveillance state/militarized police against someone, you can’t complain when someone else turns that power back on you (which I seem to recall from reading your blogs for the last 20+ years, has in fact happened to you on more than one occasion).

        • jwz says:

          Complain about stupid laws all you like -- I do! Try to get them changed -- I do! But there is a difference between strategy and tactics.

          • Jacob from Upstate NY says:

            I disagree with you on this, I think taking advantage of BS laws and procedures like this is both strategically and tactically flawed.
            We both agree that the laws that allow this complaint to proceed are fundamentally stupid, but they will never go away because too many partisans and politicians on both sides see this kind of thing and cackle gleefully to themselves about what a useful little weapon these kind of things are. Governments come and go, and soon enough, the other side will be in charge, and the same crap will be used against whoever is on top next. And thus, we are stuck with the cycle of petty shit laws like these and the “well, they hastled me, so I will do the same to them.” And nothing ever changes.
            Kill these stupid things and go after the real crimes, not the made up shit.
            I guess we aren’t going to agree on this, but it was fun to discuss all civilized-like.

            • jwz says:

              Kill these stupid things and go after the real crimes, not the made up shit.

              You can do both!

              Going after Capone for tax evasion instead of murder was "bullshit". But it worked.

              Not that this liquor license suit is going to succeed, or even if it did, have any appreciable affect -- except for getting some great fucking headlines. Headlines that make people think about both: Trump's "character"; and the stupidity of liquor licensing.

              So as performance art, I give it an A+.

    • Kaleberg says:

      If the ultimately accountable entity was a corporation, they would be impossible to sanction. It's like that self driving car driver. They are going to nail her because they can't go after the criminals behind the corporate shield.

      Corporations make it way too easy to avoid any form of accountability. For an interesting take on this:

  3. phuzz says:

    In the UK you need a license for the building, and then a seperate license for the designated person(s) who have 'day-to-day responsibility' at the place (so probably your bar manager or equivalent).
    These days you're not required to have the little sign above the door that said "J Bloggs licensed to sell intoxicating liquors for sale on/off the premises", which I think is a shame.

  4. Andreas says:

    They're going straight for the jugular. I like it.

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