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Wine Bar Owners Sue Trump, Say Favor-Seekers Go to Trump Hotel Instead

Image: Wine Bar Owners Sue Trump, Say Favor-Seekers Go to Trump Hotel Instead

Attorney Mark Zaid (R) speaks about husband and wife wine bar owners Khalid Pitts (C) and Diane Gross' unfair competition lawsuit against President Donald Trump, on March 9, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 10 Mar 2017 01:58 PM

Married Washington, D.C., wine bar owners are suing President Donald Trump, claiming his continued ownership of the Trump International Hotel there creates an unfair business advantage.

Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross, owners of the Cork Wine Bar, charged in the lawsuit that their establishment is losing business from foreign dignitaries, lobbyists, government officials, and others because they want to curry favor from the president by spending money at his hotel, the Washingtonian magazine reported.

"We feel like every place in town now is second place if you want to do business with the government in any way," Scott Rome, one of the couple's attorneys, said, according to the Washingtonian.

Instead of money, the lawsuit is seeking end to the "unfair competition," that could include the Trump's separation from the company in the form of divestment or resignation, among other remedies.

In January, the president announced he would transfer his business holdings to a trust run by his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr., but declined to sell his stake in them, drawing complaints from some government ethics watchdogs. Trump will still receive reports on overall profits of the Trump Organization, but deals in the United States must be cleared by an in-house ethics adviser.

Eric Trump on Thursday called the wine bar owners' lawsuit "a publicity stunt," The Washington Post reported.

"It's people who have nothing better to do, so they harass and they harass and the (court) will throw it out," he said. "It's ridiculous."

Chef José Andrés also has taken Trump to court over a failed deal to open a restaurant in the Trump International Hotel and his business has joined more than 50 area restaurants that closed for a day in protest of the president's immigration policy.

Pitts and Gross have connections in liberal politics. Pitts ran for D.C. Council in 2014 and served as national political director of the Sierra Club and as a campaign director for the Service Employees International Union.

Gross is a former counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights in D.C. and from 2003-2005 was counsel to Democratic Maryland U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, according to The New York Times.

One of the couple's attorney's, Alan B. Morrison, founded with Ralph Nader the Public Citizen Litigation Group in 1972, according to the Post.

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Married Washington, D.C., wine bar owners are suing President Donald Trump, claiming his continued ownership of the Trump International Hotel there creates an unfair business advantage.
wine, bar, owners, sue, trump
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2017-58-10
Friday, 10 Mar 2017 01:58 PM
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