According to the law in Washington, one must have “good character” to own a bar in the city. Seven faith leaders and former judges say that President Donald Trump, owner of the Trump International Hotel and Benjamin Bar & Lounge in its lobby does not possess good character.
They want the president’s liquor license yanked.
One June 20, the group of seven lodged a complaint with the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. As proof of the president’s bad character, the complaint said Trump sexually assaulted 16 women, holds racist views, refused to pay business contractors and defrauded students who attended Trump University.
Rabbi Jack Moline, the president of the Interfaith Alliance, was one of the clergy to sign the complaint. But he evaded the question of whether he thought Trump is a man of bad character.
“I joined in this suit because the true and actual holder of this liquor license must be a person of character, and the suit says the person is not,” he said.
Josh Levy, the attorney representing the seven complainants, said in an interview that the goal of the complaint is to show that the “rule of law still matters,” and that taking away Trump’s liquor license is a way of holding him accountable for his purported past behavior.
“We still live in a society of law, and that must be respected,” Levy said. “Character still matters, particularly when it’s a legal requirement.”
Applicants wishing to acquire a liquor license in the District must be “of good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure,” according to ABC board regulations, without spelling out what constitutes good character.
The complaint also notes that Trump has refused to part ways with his businesses since taking office in January 2017, which include his Washington hotel. The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia have sued Trump, alleging that the operation of his hotel is illegal because it violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits public officials from receiving money from foreign governments and states.
A spokesperson from the Trump Organization told Washington Post columnist Colbert King that the liquor license complaint was “patently frivolous” and was politically motivated.
“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,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.
Levy said that the complaint was not partisan, noting that a nonprofit organization funded by Arizona Republican philanthropist Jerry Hirsch is backing the grievance.
Also joining the complaint are Rabbi Aaron Potek of Gather DC; the Rev. William Lamar IV of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church; the Rev. Jennifer Butler, founding executive director of Faith in Public Life; the Rev. Timothy Tee Boddie of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; Henry H. Kennedy Jr., an inactive senior U.S. District Court judge; and Joan Goldfrank, a retired magistrate judge of the D.C. Superior Court.
The board has 30 days from the time of the complaint to schedule a hearing that will determine whether it has cause to revoke Trump’s license. No hearing has been scheduled.
When members of the clergy engage in this conduct, and file a pleading or complaint that may well be frivolous, they cheapen themselves and the cause for which they advocate. Clearly, this complaint is politically motivated, and has more to do with taking a shot at President Trump than it has to do with the proper and efficient administration of DC’s ABC laws. Bombastic behavior, and taking political positions that the complainants happen to disagree with, does not constitute “bad character” for the purpose of the ABC laws. My complaint is when rabbis, such as those named in the article, have the “chutzpah” to purport to speak for other Jews on matters of politics. Where I live, the Jewish community is as divided as our non-Jewish friends and neighbors.