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DC group 'Make Integrity Great Again' challenges ABC Board to revoke Trump Hotel liquor license, again

The group argues that D.C. law says applicants must be of good character to obtain a license, but 'Donald J. Trump has demonstrated that he lacks good character.'
Credit: AP
The north face of the Trump International Hotel is seen in this general view. Monday, March 11, 2019, in Washington D.C. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

WASHINGTON -- "Make Integrity Great Again," a D.C.-based organization, has refiled a complaint to the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, asking the board not to renew The International Trump Hotel's liquor license. 

On June 20, 2018, the organization initially wrote the letter to the ABC Board, protesting the renewal of the liquor license, according to the ABC Board's ruling documents.

In its statement, "Make Integrity Great Again" argued that D.C. law states that applicants of a liquor license must be of "good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure." According to the group, President Trump doesn't embody those requirements.

The ABC board declined to take the 2018 case, stating the group of D.C. residents filed their petition after the Trump hotel had already been granted its license, the ABC Board ruling documents said.

But the protesting group refiled the petition -- before the Trump Hotel's liquor license was up for renewal. 

"Good character is a statutory requirement for the granting of liquor licenses in the District of Columbia," the group said on its website. "Through his behavior both before and during his presidency, Donald J. Trump has demonstrated that he lacks good character."

According to The Washington Post, lawyers for the hotel appealed the complaint, and asked the board to dismiss the case on "technical grounds."

The lawyers argued that the group shouldn't be recognized as a protestant and dismissed, due to the fact that "Make Integrity Great Again" failed to file an objection "under one of the recognized appropriateness grounds, which does not include the character of the ownership," the ruling documents said.

Trump's lawyers also argued that the group failed to challenge the licensee's character and fitness. They said that challenging the character and fitness of President Trump as an individual owner, and not that of the limited liability company is "insufficient."

The lawyers also argued in a footnote that the petition lacked the required signatures and addresses of the individual members "Make Integrity Great Again," which is required by 23 DCMR § 1602.3, the documents said.

Lastly, the lawyers argued that the addresses of the individual group members shouldn't be withheld by the agency.

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But the board denied the hotel's request and issued a ruling that allowed the complaint to move to mediation -- or a hearing before the ABC board.

In the board’s June 12 ruling, it argued that "Make Integrity Great Again's" complaint was legitimate, stating those seeking a liquor license renewal are required by D.C. law to demonstrate they are of “good character," the ruling documents said.

According to the ruling documents, the board wrote that the Trump representatives' "interpretation contradicts the intent of the legislature, which considered character challenges a fundamental part of the District's alcohol laws."

The ABC Board also dismissed the statement made my President Trump's lawyers that "Make Integrity Great Again" couldn't challenge the president in his capacity as the owner, rather than those whose names are on the license application, The Post said.

The Board cited a prior ruling and said that it has held that "the mere creation of a corporate entity does not shield the individuals holding an interest in a corporation or limited liability company from having their records as owner scrutinized by the Board," the ruling summary said.

The ABC Board also said it wont hold any further hearings on the "good character" argument until "Make Integrity Great Again" discloses their addresses to the Trump representatives, stating that only D.C. residents and property owners can issue a "protest by group." They also stated that all parties have the right to ensure that statute is being followed in this case.

Each party has 10 days to contest the board's decision.