Politically connected DC wine bar owners sue Trump International Hotel

Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross, the husband-and-wife proprietors of D.C.'s Cork Wine Bar, located about a mile and a half from Trump International Hotel, have filed a lawsuit against the hotel and President Trump.

The pair claims that Trump International and its dining establishments have an unfair advantage over the city's bustling businesses.  The effects of that advantage are compounded by "marketing activities of the Hotel's officers and employees, and the similar activities of defendant Trump, his family, the White House staff and/or advisors."

Gross and Pitts are not your ordinary restaurateurs.  Their political backgrounds helped to make Cork a destination for the power elites.

Before 2007, Gross was consulting counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, based in Washington.  From July 2003 to October 2005, she was counsel to Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland.

Before his restaurant venture, Pitts was a former national political director with the Sierra Club; director of strategic campaigns for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); co-chair of the executive board of Health Care for America Now (HCAN); president and board chair of USAction – a grassroots organization fighting for justice; Virginia state director for Congressman Dick Gephardt's 2004 presidential campaign; state director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and its sister organization, the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence; executive committee co-chair of Americans United for Change; and a board member of the Coalition for Human Needs.

After Hillary Clinton's defeat in November, The New York Times interviewed several business owners from D.C., including Cork's Gross.

All expressed the fear that President Trump would "drain the vibrant culture" Obama had ushered in beginning in 2009.

In the NYT article, Gross recalled the election night watch party at Cork.  The "wine drenched tragedy" had Gross so upset that she feared that her mother would have a heart attack.

The lawsuit may have had its genesis that night.  Before President Trump trounced Clinton on November 8, Cork's clientele included Jen Psaki, the White House communications director, who had her engagement party at Cork.  Mrs. Obama dropped in, and Jill Biden became a regular there.  With Trump's victory, Gross worried that the "young, fashionable and talented" patrons of D.C.' s  cultural scene would go elsewhere.

"There's a real possibility of people going back to wherever they are from to do progressive politics there," she told the New York Times.

With the Obamas and Valerie Jarrett moving into the high-priced Kalorama section of D.C., and along with current progressive politicians needing a water hole where they can commiserate over their historic loss , Gross's post-election apprehension about the future of her wine bar because of Trump International is ludicrous.

Lead attorney for the Trump Organization Alan Garten thinks so, too.  He dismissed the lawsuit as a "wild publicity stunt completely lacking in legal merit." 

Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross, the husband-and-wife proprietors of D.C.'s Cork Wine Bar, located about a mile and a half from Trump International Hotel, have filed a lawsuit against the hotel and President Trump.

The pair claims that Trump International and its dining establishments have an unfair advantage over the city's bustling businesses.  The effects of that advantage are compounded by "marketing activities of the Hotel's officers and employees, and the similar activities of defendant Trump, his family, the White House staff and/or advisors."

Gross and Pitts are not your ordinary restaurateurs.  Their political backgrounds helped to make Cork a destination for the power elites.

Before 2007, Gross was consulting counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, based in Washington.  From July 2003 to October 2005, she was counsel to Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland.

Before his restaurant venture, Pitts was a former national political director with the Sierra Club; director of strategic campaigns for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); co-chair of the executive board of Health Care for America Now (HCAN); president and board chair of USAction – a grassroots organization fighting for justice; Virginia state director for Congressman Dick Gephardt's 2004 presidential campaign; state director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and its sister organization, the Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence; executive committee co-chair of Americans United for Change; and a board member of the Coalition for Human Needs.

After Hillary Clinton's defeat in November, The New York Times interviewed several business owners from D.C., including Cork's Gross.

All expressed the fear that President Trump would "drain the vibrant culture" Obama had ushered in beginning in 2009.

In the NYT article, Gross recalled the election night watch party at Cork.  The "wine drenched tragedy" had Gross so upset that she feared that her mother would have a heart attack.

The lawsuit may have had its genesis that night.  Before President Trump trounced Clinton on November 8, Cork's clientele included Jen Psaki, the White House communications director, who had her engagement party at Cork.  Mrs. Obama dropped in, and Jill Biden became a regular there.  With Trump's victory, Gross worried that the "young, fashionable and talented" patrons of D.C.' s  cultural scene would go elsewhere.

"There's a real possibility of people going back to wherever they are from to do progressive politics there," she told the New York Times.

With the Obamas and Valerie Jarrett moving into the high-priced Kalorama section of D.C., and along with current progressive politicians needing a water hole where they can commiserate over their historic loss , Gross's post-election apprehension about the future of her wine bar because of Trump International is ludicrous.

Lead attorney for the Trump Organization Alan Garten thinks so, too.  He dismissed the lawsuit as a "wild publicity stunt completely lacking in legal merit." 

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