Darrow Montgomery

Back in June, a small group of D.C. residents including reverends, rabbis, and judges filed a complaint with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). The plaintiffs’ attorney Joshua A. Levy of Cunningham Levy Muse LLP argued that the Trump Hotel’s liquor license should be revoked because of its owner’s character.

The complaint points to an ABRA stipulation that says that “only persons of ‘good character’ qualify for the privilege of owning establishments that sell alcoholic beverages.” ABRA had until Sept. 18 to respond and did so today. 

Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Chairperson Donovan Anderson issued a statement saying the agency will not be holding a hearing, citing procedural reasons. Character investigations can only occur during certain time periods: before issuing a license, when transferring a license to a new owner, or when renewing a license. While the complaint asked the board to overlook this provision because they feel the owner’s character flaws are “egregious,” ABRA is sticking to the law

The original complaint called Donald Trump the “true and actual” owner of the hotel despite the fact that Donald J. Trump Jr. is actually in charge. An ANC Advisory Board supplemented the complaint with their support in July. It ticks off a variety of Trump’s alleged character flaws including being deceitful, lacking integrity when dealing with others, and failing to abide by the law.

“We disagree, respectfully, on the Board’s understanding of the statute,” Levy tells City Paper. “Holding a liquor license in D.C. is a privilege, not a right. And we urge them to reconsider.”

Levy continues, “We gathered signatures in the rain over the weekend for 1,900 people… who want a review of the license… there’s popular support for this. It just can’t be that the board can say to a license holder ‘OK, here you go’ and ignore them until the next review period.”

At the bottom of Anderson’s response to the complaint, he states that all hotel license holders in D.C. are required to apply for the renewal of their licenses by March 31, 2019. That’s the first point in which the board could consider revisiting this.

There’s no word yet on Levy’s next steps.