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Yet another: Multiple Women Recall Sexual Misconduct and Retaliation by Gordon Sondland

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Julia Silverman, Kelly Clarke, and Fiona McCann, Portland Monthly, with Maryam Jameel and Doris Burke report in ProPublica:

Three women say they faced sexual misconduct by Gordon Sondland before he was the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and at the center of the presidential impeachment inquiry. They say he retaliated against them professionally after they rejected his advances.

In one case, a potential business partner recalls that Sondland took her to tour a room in a hotel he owns, only to then grab her face and try to kiss her. After she rejected him, Sondland backtracked on investing in her business.

Another woman, a work associate at the time, says Sondland exposed himself to her during a business interaction. She also recalls falling over the back of a couch trying to get away from him. After she made her lack of interest clear, she says Sondland called her, screaming about her job performance.

A third woman, 27 years Sondland’s junior, met him to discuss a potential job. She says he pushed himself against her and kissed her. She shoved him away. She says his job help stopped.

All three women have agreed to be named in this story. In all the cases, friends, family members or colleagues of the women recall being told about the encounters at the time. The cases span a seven-year period, ending less than a decade ago. Sondland denies the allegations.

“In decades of my career in business and civic affairs, my conduct can be affirmed by hundreds of employees and colleagues with whom I have worked in countless circumstances,” Sondland said in a statement. “These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes. They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them.” (Read his statement.)

Sondland’s lawyer added in a letter: “Notably, what each of these three women share in common is that they pursued Ambassador Sondland for financial and personal gain — an investment, a job, and insurance brokerage work — and he declined their proposals.”

The lawyer, Jim McDermott, also wrote that the three women are trying to undermine Sondland’s latest testimony. “Given the timing of your intended story, a reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that you are attempting to affect Ambassador Sondland’s credibility as a fact witness in the pending impeachment inquiry,” McDermott wrote. “Given the politically charged climate in which current events are unfolding, some might consider this to be veiled witness tampering.”

Reporting on this story began in October, around the time of Sondland’s initial impeachment testimony, in which he backed the president’s assertion that there was no quid pro quo involving Ukraine.

The day after Sondland gave that testimony, Nicole Vogel spoke at the Day of the Girl Luncheon in Seattle, an event hosted by a regional nonprofit, Girls Inc., whose mission is to inspire “all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” Vogel decided to recount her Sondland story and name him.

Vogel also mentioned it to an editor at Portland Monthly, the co-publisher of this story, and she later spoke about it again at a breakfast event in Portland.

[Editor’s note: Vogel is the owner of Portland Monthly. Vogel cooperated with the story as a source. She was not involved in editorial decisions. The magazine’s editorial team decided to partner with ProPublica to independently report her story.]

“There were a lot of indecent proposals when I was raising capital, but none as brazen as his,” Vogel recalls. She encountered Sondland 16 years ago when she was trying to raise money to start her magazine. “I have nothing to say about what he did or didn’t do [involving Ukraine]. But if people are asking what his moral character is, I have one more piece of evidence for them.”

The women had kept their stories to their own circles, even after Sondland was nominated and vetted for an ambassadorship by a president who himself has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 20 women. The women say they were not contacted by the government for any background checks.

In 2003, Vogel had an idea to start a magazine with her journalist brother that would chronicle Portland’s exploding art, culture and food scenes. She was 34 years old and fresh off a job at Move.com. Armed with full mock-ups of the magazine and detailed financial projections, the search for investors led her to Sondland.

Sondland has long been a power player in Portland, where he is one of the region’s most prominent business figures. He owns five hotels in Portland under the umbrella of the company he founded, Provenance Hotel Group. He was once asked at a panel why he got into the business. “It combines all the elements that give me a reason to get up in the morning,” Sondland said. “You have food, you have wine, you have design, you have art, you have intrigue, you have sex. You have everything you can think of.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2019 at 3:16 pm

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