17:38 GMT +310 December 2019
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    The exterior of the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. (File)

    DC Group Wants to Strip Trump Hotel’s Liquor License Over 'Bad Character'

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    A neighbor advisory commission in the US capital has petitioned to remove the Trump International Hotel’s liquor license, citing Trump’s ‘bad character.’ But what are their chances?

    A Washington, DC, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 4C) has joined a petition to demand Trump Hotel's liquor license to be revoked. The petition appeals to a DC law that says that liquor license applicants must be of "good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure." So much for precise wording.

    "It is our considered view that Donald Trump, the true and actual owner of the Trump International Hotel, is not a person of good character, doesn't meet the DC Code… requirements and therefore the license should be revoked," ANC 4C chairman, Bennett Hilley and Charlotte Nugent, the vice chair, wrote in a letter to the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), according to the Washington Post.

    The petition was initially launched in June by a group of religious leaders and former judges. The complaint cites Trump's "long history of telling lies," his alleged lack of integrity in dealings with others and his "failure to abide by the law and to repudiate associations with known criminals," according to Fox.

    The funny point here is that ANC 4C is not the same ward as where Trump Hotel is built. The establishment is located five blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, while Ward 4 is in the northernmost area of the city, which is primarily residential. The neighborhood group that represents the area where the hotel is physically located, in Ward 2, has no intention to back the move.

    In the meantime, ABRA spokesman Max Bluestein commented on the issue by saying that, while anyone can file a complaint against a licensee, at any time during the license's period, the ANC cannot file a complaint about a business that is not within 600 feet of its jurisdiction. Besides, an official protest can only be filed at a time when the license is either initially being considered by DC Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) or is up for renewal, which would be in 2019 for Trump International Hotel.

    John Tinpe, the chairman of ANC 2C, says the group won't back the complaint because they don't feel it is their right to comment on anyone's "character."

    "Now, if there is criminal activity, that is different," Tinpe said, according to the Washington Post. "But the subject of character is something different."

    Regarding the history of licensing law in the city, The Washington Post points to a 1981 Haight v. ABC Board case, in which the DC Court of Appeals ruled that, while the ABC Board is within its rights to require more than "mere compliance with the law" from its applicants, it also has to "put applicants on fair notice by making public its criteria." As the applicant, who had a history of selling legal drug paraphernalia, was not notified that this behavior might become grounds for losing his license, the ABC Board could not use the behavior to justify revoking his license.

    As of today, there is no set definition of "good character" in DC legislation, says the ABRA's Bluestein.

    Bluestein said that once ABRA's investigators examine the original June complaint, the ABC Board will then either summon the "show cause" hearing, in which Trump International Hotel would have to justify why it should retain its license, or decide that no further action is needed.

    The Trump Organization has dismissed the complaint as "patently frivolous."

    "The complaint is patently frivolous and an obvious attempt to harass and to distort the law for political gain. Politics has no place in the licensing process and this complaint is an assault on the hundreds of employees who count on the property for their employment and livelihoods," a spokesperson for the Organization told Fox News.


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