Provenance Hotels Files Ethics Complaint Against Rep. Earl Blumenauer

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Oct. 12, 2019 8:38 p.m.

Provenance Hotels announced Saturday that it has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Oregon Democratic U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

Blumenauer called for a boycott of the Portland-based hotel company Wednesday, due to its connection to Ambassador Gordon Sondland; Sondland is currently embroiled in the Ukraine controversy with President Donald Trump. He's also the founder of Provenance Hotels.


Blumenauer had called for the boycott when Sondland was originally blocked from testifying in the impeachment inquiry by the Trump administration. Sondland has since said he will testify.

Ellen Carmichael, spokeswoman for Provenance Hotels, said in postings on social media that Blumenauer’s call for a boycott is forbidden by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

“We believe Congressman Blumenauer’s actions constitute a potentially serious violation of Congressional ethics as outlined in multiple sections of the House Ethics Manual,” Carmichael wrote.


She said the specific rule Blumenauer allegedly violated states that members of Congress cannot threaten administrative officials over matters of disagreement.

Provenance Hotels’ complaint states Blumenauer’s call for a boycott counts as an explicit threat meant to create harm to Sondland.

The complaint also said the House Ethics Manual strongly advises against using an official communication, such as a press release in Blumenauer’s case, to intervene in private matters, “specifically when it comes to attempts to pressure private actions (such as the threat of a boycott to force Ambassador Sondland to testify.)”

The complaint alleges Blumenauer’s donors may be benefiting from the call to boycott the hotel chain, something that could be seen as unethical by the House Ethics Manual’s standards.

Blumenauer has received financial contributions from multiple donors in similar sectors to Provenance Hotels, the complaint states, such as Portland developers.

“A boycott of Provenance Hotels could financially benefit a number of these donors,” the complaint said.

Jim McDermott, Sondland's personal attorney, told OPB the complaint "seems like an appropriate response to a thoughtless act."

Blumenauer did not immediately respond to request for comment.