Wednesday ProPublica released an article on Ambassador Gordon Sondland. In the article, there are three women who retell their allegations of inappropriate encounters with Amb. Sondland. All of the encounters were alleged to be from before he was an ambassador and revolve around his Hotels and prominence in the area.
According to the ProPublica story: The first woman in the story is Nicole Vogel, the founder of the magazine Portland Monthly. In her recounting of the events, she was raising capital to launch her magazine during this time “There were a lot of indecent proposals … but none as brazen as his.” The night of the incident “Gordon had said … he was going to invest.” “he was interested in investing in the company, but that he was more interested in investing in me because he felt as if Portland didn’t keep people of high ambition and talent.”
The pair had dinner and then Sondland took her to Hotel Lucia which he owned. He then introduced her to the staff and then suggested she may want to see one of the rooms. They looked at the room and as Vogel was getting ready to leave, Sondland asked “Can I just have a hug first?” she obliged. As she started to disengage from the hug he grabbed her face to kiss her. She blocked the kiss and said, “Ooh Gordon, you’re a married man, and you’d just break my heart.” She left the room and made sure to be seen by the staff she had been introduced to just minutes before.
Sondland sent her an email shortly after the encounter requesting her financial analysis for her business plan and included “sorry I was such a dud.” The pair had another lunch together to work out the details of the investment. Sondland made another advance at her placing his hand on her midthigh.
Days before she was due to close on her first round of financing for the magazine, Sondland sent an email to decline to participate in the financing of the magazine. Lawer’s for Sondland state the decision not to invest came about after doing his due diligence in reviewing her proposal, nothing to do with the incidents Vogel recounted. This put Vogel in a tough position with funding.
A statement released by Sondlan’s lawyers regarding Vogel:
As you are doubtless aware, one of the three complainants, Nicole Vogel, is the owner and publisher of the Portland Monthly. She and her publication stand to benefit directly from publishing these allegations, and Ms. Vogel’s delay in bringing these forward — even as Ambassador Sondland was undergoing public scrutiny by Congress as part of his confirmation in 2018 — casts grave doubt on her credibility. Indeed, we understand that Portland Monthly is under significant financial pressure and Ms. Vogel’s efforts seem designed to salvage it.
Jana Solis was a hospitality safety engineer for New York City-based insurance giant Marsh & McLennan. She created risk management plans and evaluated the safety of restaurants and hotels. She was asked to take lunch with Sondland which she did.
She said “He was flirting through lunch, and ends up just saying, ‘OK, I’ve heard enough, you’re hired. Congratulations. You’re my new hotel chick.’” He then slapped her rear and continued “‘I look forward to working with you.’” Sondland invited her to his house to have her evaluate his personal art collection. She made notes as they were going through the house she excused herself to use the restroom and when she made it out to the pool house “he is now naked from the waist down. He said something about. ‘I thought we could chat.’” She retorted with “I can’t have that conversation” she apologized for giving him the wrong impression she was trying to preserve the business relationship. Sondland dressed and drove her back to downtown Portland.
A few months later she was holding a training session at one of his hotels. Sondland told her he needed her to see the penthouse. She went to the penthouse he invited her to have a drink with him. She accepted his offer and sat with him on his couch. “The next thing I know he’s all over her she fell over the couch trying to get away from him. A few days later she received a phone call at her office from Sondland he “screamed” at her about the job she had done she said “Ath the end of the day, it wasn’t about insurance. He was pissed. He didn’t’ get his way, and he was making it about work… making it all my fault.” Sondland’s lawyers deny any inappropriate behavior that happened on Sondland’s part.
The third woman Natalie Sept was introduced to Sondland in 2010 after working on the Nick Fish election. Fish and Sept were having breakfast at the Heathman hotel Sondland was also there. Fish introduced Natalie to Sondland as at “rising star”. Sondland invited her to another breakfast after the introduction. Sondland made her feel comfortable as well as talked about possible opportunities he could help her with. The pair met again for a dinner that started with the restaurant’s nicest bottle of wine.
After dinner, they continued their conversation at a cocktail bar down the street. As Sept tried to leave Sondland followed her out to her car and hugged her and tried to kiss her she pushed him away got into her car and left. She never heard from Sondland again and went on to work on the Clinton presidential campaign for 2016. Sondland’s lawyers replied to the claim stating “Ambassador Sondland did discuss Ms. Sept’s job prospects with her but denies any unwanted touching. He specifically denies attempting to kiss her, along with her claim that she pushed him away.”
All of these women were drawn to Sondland because of his business and affluence in the area. They wanted his business or assistance in some way. According to their allegations, Sondland used his position to try to get some quid pro quo in the form of physical engagement. When the advances were rejected he no longer had the motive to assist any of the women any longer.
Sondland, who recently testified in the House Intelligence Committee claiming that President Trump engaged in a quid pro quo attempt related to Ukraine phone call that prompted the famous whistleblower report now has more on his plate than he probably expected.
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