by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Natalie Johnson of the Washington Free Beacon highlights a North Carolina senator’s support for Gordon Sondlund, the “multimillionaire hotel mogul” slated to become U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.), who met Sondland during his 2014 bid for U.S. Senate, said the mogul’s family history is particularly pertinent to the post at a time when populism and anti-Semitism are on the rise in Europe and the United States.
His parents, Günther Sondland and Frieda Piepsch, were born in Berlin and forced to escape the country soon after they married due to the rise of Hitler and onset of World War II. Sondland told the Portland Business Journal that his parents weren’t reunited until eight years after they fled Germany.
“When you have parents who were brought up as his were, then you have to believe that part of the family tradition is understanding what can happen when these ideas take hold and understanding the reality that we’re only a couple of generations away from what happened in Nazi Germany,” Tillis said. “Having that in the back of your mind, having that family experience and history, is just another reason why he rounds out a good resume for the job.”
Sondland is the founder and chief executive of Provenance Hotels, which oversees several boutique hotels restaurants located primarily in Portland and Seattle. He also runs a charity with his wife, Katherine Durant, and sits on the advisory board of bank holding company U.S. Bancorp.
Though Sondland has never served in the government, he worked for more than a decade alongside former Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat who held the office from 2003 to 2011. Kulongoski said Sondland’s values will serve him well in Brussels if he is confirmed for the position.