A new article from Portland Monthly and national investigative reporting outlet ProPublica reveals a new side of local-billionaire-turned-ambassador-turned-impeachment-doofus Gordon Sondland. According to the Monthly's and ProPublica's reporting, Sondland has a habit of making unwanted sexual advances on women he works with—and retaliating after they reject him.
The article recounts the experiences of three women who worked with Sondland in Portland, all of whom bravely chose to make their full identities public. The women's ages, work fields, and relationships with Sondland all vary, but they share one thing in common: When Sondland managed to get them alone, he allegedly attempted to get physical with them.
One of these women is Jana Solis, an insurance executive who met with Sondland in 2008 to discuss a potential business relationship between Solis' insurance firm and Provenance Hotels, Sondland's hospitality company. After a professional lunch, Sondland reportedly called Solis his "new hotel chick," slapped her on her ass, and told her he looked forward to working together.
Next, Sondland invited Solis to his West Hills home so he could show off his art collection to her. Here's what happened next, according to the Portland Monthly/Propublica piece, which you should absolutely read in full:
"The two toured Sondland’s home in Portland’s exclusive West Hills... And then, she recalls, he told her there was even more of his collection to see in the pool house. She’d meet him there, she said, excusing herself both to go to the bathroom and map out a potential exit strategy.
'I get out to the pool house, and he is now naked from the waist down,' Solis remembers. 'He said something about, "I thought we could chat." And I said something, trying to keep his ego intact — not that he needed that, not that it wouldn’t have been anyway — I said something like, "I can’t have that conversation."'
That wasn't the end of Sondland's and Solis' interactions—he also shoved his tongue down her throat inside his hotel penthouse in Seattle—but their working relationship soon ended after Sondland called Solis to scream at her.
The other two accounts come from Nicole Vogel, the publisher of Portland Monthly, and Natalie Sept, a former staffer for Portland Commissioner Nick Fish. Fish said he was "outraged" by Sondland's alleged behavior in an online statement, and said he had donated $1,500 to Call to Safety, formerly known as Portland Women's Crisis Line, to make up for the $1,500 campaign donations he received from Sondland in 2008 and 2009.
Both Vogel's and Sept's stories have the same broad framework of Solis' story: What begins as a friendly business relationship soon escalates into one-sided sexual advances, ending in a cruel about-face from Sondland after he's rejected.
There's nothing surprising about the fact that a man who would jump at the chance to buy a position in Donald Trump's administration is an alleged workplace sexual harasser. (I suppose I should note here: Sondland fully denies all allegations of misconduct.) There's also nothing funny about the situation Sondland reportedly forced these three professional, accomplished women into. But there are a few funny, telling pieces about Sondland here that I personally will be chewing on for weeks:
• "The hotelier showed off pictures of himself with then-President George W. Bush and Bush’s dog."
• "He initially supported Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign." (Editor's note: please clap.)
• Sondland brought not one, but two of the women to El Gaucho, a fancy Portland steakery whose food looks like barf (thanks, Yelp!).
• Sondland apologizes for allegedly exposing his penis to a female colleague with the line "Sorry I was such a dud.”
• Like every creep you've ever known in this life, every past life, and every parallel universe, Sondland loves using the phrase "Can I have a hug?"
Anyway, I've said it once and I'll say it again: read the whole article. Happy Thanksgiving!