Portland protesters surround Sondland's Heathman Hotel
The Portland hotelier thrust into the center stage of a rapidly unfurling presidential impeachment inquiry must clear his conscience and come clean.
That, at least, was the demand made by several hundred demonstrators as they yelled "Gordon Sondland! Tell the truth!" while ringing the Heathman Hotel, 1001 S.W. Broadway, during a midday rally on Sunday, Oct. 13.
Sondland "is claiming that he had no idea that anything he was doing was politically motivated… to dig up dirt on Biden," said organizer Kate Sharaf with the group Stand On Every Corner PDX. "It really strains credulity."
Sondland — 62 years old and the current U.S. ambassador to the European Union — is set to testify to the U.S. House on Thursday, Oct. 17, regarding his role in the burgeoning Trump-Ukraine controversy, including a text message Sondland sent reading: "no quid pro quo."
A whistleblower and many Democrats have accused President Trump of asking a foreign power to investigate one of his political opponents, former Vice President Joe Biden. But some attendees at the Portland rally said they think Trump already crossed the line — well before his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"It's been way too long, there's such a list of impeachable crimes," said Simone Conley, holding a sign labeling Trump a homphobic, misogynist, liar, racist, idiot, bully, Nazi, traitor, fraud and other epithets.
Added her husband, Dale: "From day one, he has been the scariest president ever. I honestly feel like he's categorically insane."
Protesters gathered at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 2 p.m. before marching to the Heathman, with organizers instructing participants not to block the hotel's doorway, harass lodgers or block traffic by walking in the street. Those ground rules appeared to be followed, and no counter-protester activity was readily visible during the two-hour event.
The Tribune previously reported that Sondland operates six hotels here — the Sentinel, deLuxe, Heathman, Lucia, Dossier and Woodlark. U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, has even called for a boycott of the properties, prompting the chain to file an ethics complaint against the congressman. The establishments are also listed on the website of Provenance Hotels, which Sondland founded in the 1980s.
But the staff standing guard outside the Heathman's entrance denied any connection, saying the protesters were misinformed.
"The building used to be owned by Provenance, but now it's owned by Pebblebrook," said a woman who identified herself as the hotel's general manager. "We have nothing to do with it."