Is Trump entitled to a liquor license?

DC law requires that for an establishment to serve alcohol, it must hold a liquor license. One of the requirements for the liquor license is that the applicant (more on that in a second) must be of "good character. Per DC law, the applicant is the “true and actual owner” of the establishment, and cannot be an “agent” of any other ownership interest. So I think it is reasonably clear (though perhaps not absolutely conclusive) that ultimately, Donald Trump is the applicant for the liquor license at the Trump Hotel in DC.

A group of Washingtonians, including retired judges and several members of the clergy, petitioned the DC licensing board to rule that Trump was not of “good character” and should not hold a license.

The board ruled yesterday that these claims need to be considered at the time a license is issued, punting the matter for about another six months or so.

The evidence is overwhelming that Donald Trump is not of good character. He is a serial liar. He cheats on his wives. He berates his employees and staff. He is probably perpetrating fraud with his charities. I actually can’t think of a redeeming personal quality at the moment.

Therefore be it resolved: that when the Trump Hotel’s liquor license is up for renewal, it shall not be issued to the owner of the Trump Hotel. Further, if anyone seeks to dispute this ruling as unfair, in the true style of textualism and (quasi) judicial conservatism, such people ought to convince the legislature to change the law to exclude “good character” from the criteria for a liquor license, and not seek to have a panel invent its own law out of thin air.

I imagine that “good character” has a specific legal definition.

In all likelihood, Trump won’t be deemed to be the actual owner. Let’s take a competitor- a Hilton hotel in DC. That’s owned by Hilton Worldwide, which is 25% owned (largest shareholder) by HNA Group. So does that make HNA Group’s chairman, a Chinese gentleman named Chen Feng “the true and actual owner” of the hotel?

Of course not. There’s liable to be a local representative in DC who acts in the owner’s stead in such things. Trump’s hotel will almost certainly have something similar in place.

I think that’s probably true of a lot of bar owners. If you yank the liquor license for every bar owner that’s cheated on their spouse, you’ll have a lot of bars going out of business.

In my state (or locality), I believe if you meet the requirements it’s ‘shall issue’ not ‘may issue’. They’re more concerned about if you’re going to sell to minors or break other liquor related laws than if you cheat on your wife or yell at your employees.

Besides, even if they did pull his license, he could probably spin the bar off into it’s own business with it’s own owner that can hold the license.

Sounds like you’re arguing that “good character” and “true and actual owner” aren’t to be taken at face value.

Would you also contend that the DC rule prohibiting a liquor license to those convicted of a felony shouldn’t actually be read to prohibit felons from getting a license?

I have no problem with this.

The “good character” is that you can be trusted to serve alcohol according to the rules. You can’t seriously think they should judge a license application according to how faithful you are to your spouse.

Well that settles it. No way he should have a license.

Apparantly not.

It seems that the 2 most recent court cases that revoked licenses did so because one guy had sold drugs on the premises and another guy had lied to the board about selling to underage drinkers. Not sure that precedent stands the scrutiny of revoking Trump’s license. One might argue that a law with a capricious trigger, like “good character”, needs to be sent back to the legislature for further clarification. If the legislature clarifies that “a pattern of lying, whether or not related to the operation of the business” qualifies, then NO LICENSE FOR YOU!!

Does Congress have a say in the matter or is DC able to rule on this by itself?


Is that like constructing and operating large buildings according to the rules, including that the elevator buttons must be marked in braille? :wink:

Well, maybe you should have looked up what “good character” means to the liquor licensing people before you started this thread rather than assume what the “face value” of the phrase means.

Lord knows I don’t like Trump but unless there is a specific issue with the bar in question I don’t know about, this appears to just be abusing the system for the purpose of petty trolling.

Sooooo, accepting your argument that petty trolling is not a justification for abusing the system, what would be an acceptable justification for abusing the system? (Asking for a President who likes abusing systems…hell, the fact that he even has a hotel in DC while in office is abusing the system.)

yes I agree 100% , this effort is just a waste of time.

I wasn’t aware I had implied there was an acceptable justification for abusing the system.

That Trump has an emoluments issue is, of course, problematic. Going after his liquor license doesn’t really address that issue, however. Getting a Congress that will do their fucking job would be more effective.

I’m not certain that disqualifying Trump would matter. Yes, his name is on the hotel but Walt Disney’s name is still on the resort in Florida even though Walt has been dead for years. Having your name on something doesn’t mean that you own or control it. It looks like Don Jr. and Ivanka are the liquor licensees for the hotel and its restaurant, BLT Prime.

I would expect that the “good character” that the Board is looking for to include things like whether the licensees are:
[li]honest in their business dealings, so they could be relied upon to not cheat their customers, to pay their workers, and to pay their taxes. [/li][li]not criminals or associates of criminals who might conduct unsavory or illegal activities at the bar. [/li][li]non-discriminating, so they could be expected to comply with DC’s regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and political views.[/li][li] willing and able to comply with the regulations governing liquor sales.[/li][/ul]

Courts have upheld liquor license denials if the facts show that the person is engaged in criminal activity. See, Minkoff v. Payne et al, 210 F.2d 689 (D.C. Cir. 1953) (upholding denial of a liquor license to a person who settled federal criminal for making false and fraudulent entries in his business books and for conspiring with bootleggers by paying a fine). ABRA may consider evidence of a licensee’s illegal activity regardless of whether the licensee was convicted of any crime. See Haight v. District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Control Bd., 439 A.2d 487, 489, 493 (D.C. 1981).

ABRA may also find a lack of good character if a licensee is not complying with the liquor laws. For example, ABRA recently moved to deny a license renewal to a licensee who illegally provided alcoholic beverages to an unlicensed lounge.

In my view, the parties contesting the Trump liquor license would need to show that Don Jr. and Ivanka lack good character for reasons like these. In my opinion, the parties opposing the license have failed to do so. The only dishonest and illegal thing that I am aware Don Jr. and Ivanka have been accused of involved making misrepresentations to condo buyers. Perhaps making such a showing could support a finding that they lack good character.

I love the cites that basically say, “no U!” You have totally convinced me with your unbiased and completely factual arguments so far.

Sovereign citizens read parts of the law, and construct their own elaborate framework for what those laws mean.

How has “good moral character,” actually been applied in past licensing decisions?

Are you proposing that the DC Alcoholic Beverage Control Board apply this same level of scrutiny to all license applicants, Ravenman?

Holding Trump accountable at a hearing for his liquor license will call public attention to the problem of the Republicans in Congress refusing to hold him accountable as President. Public attention will either force the Republicans in Congress to do their job or it will convince people to vote them out of Congress.