Portland's leading hotelier, Gordon Sondland, has spent heavily to curry favor with President Donald Trump, including a million-dollar donation to inaugural parties.
New public documents suggest Sondland is modeling himself on Trump in another way: by stiffing the contractors remodeling his downtown hotel.
One of those contractors says Sondland's refusal to pay for woodwork at the Portland hotel, called the Dossier, put his mom-and-pop contracting firm out of business.
Rob Slattery, whose carpenters did all the woodwork for the Dossier's bar, restaurant and lobby, says his firm recently closed after Sondland refused to pay him the last $76,000 he was owed. "It may not sound like a lot of money, but it was make or break for us," Slattery says. "He put us out of business. It's been devastating."
Jim McDermott, an attorney for Sondland's company, says contract disputes are routine in multimillion-dollar projects like the Dossier remodel. "Ninety percent of the money has been paid," McDermott says. "This is a run-of-the mill dispute between a subcontractor [Slattery] and the general contractor [J.E. John Construction]."
The dispute between a high-profile hotelier and his contractors echoes the 2016 presidential race, during which reporters treated voters to numerous accounts of Donald J. Trump, the nation's best-known hotel magnate, failing to pay contractors on time or in full.
After Trump's victory last year, Sondland contributed $1 million to the president-elect's inaugural festivities, giving the money through obscure businesses unfamiliar to most Portlanders.
Now, as the Trump administration considers whether to bestow an ambassadorship on Sondland—The Oregonian reported in October he was being vetted—Sondland is allegedly emulating the president by short-paying his contractors.
The woodwork alone cost $380,000, according to a construction lien Slattery Inc. filed last month against Sondland's Portland Hotel LLC seeking payment for the last $76,000 of that total.
Despite some positive reviews (WW was less kind), Omertà closed in November, just three months after opening. That failure led to questions of whether the Dossier's management misread Portland tastes.
Slattery says he's not the only one who didn't get paid. "I know there are significant disputes with others," he says.