Three women have accused Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union who is at the center of the presidential impeachment inquiry, of sexual misconduct and retaliation.
The three women say that Sondland made unwanted sexual contact with them in business settings, and on one occasion exposed himself, before he joined the U.S. State Department last year.
The three women who shared the allegations came forward by name. They are Portland Monthly Magazine owner Nicole Vogel, insurance executive Jana Solis, and Portland political consultant and nonprofit manager Natalie Sept.
The women say that Sondland retaliated against them after they rejected him advances, according to a bombshell ProPublica and Portland Monthly report published Wednesday.
However, Sondland has denied the allegations, slamming them as ‘untrue claims’ that he believes are ‘coordinated for political purposes.’
Three women have accused Gordon Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union at the center of the impeachment inquiry, of sexual misconduct and retaliation
Sondland is a successful business man who was the founder and CEO of the Provenance Hotels chain, which has 19 hotels across the country. He financially supported Trump after he became the Republican nominee in the 2016 presidential election.
Nicole Vogel decided to come forward with her account the day after Sondland gave his initial impeachment testimony on Capitol Hill, in which he said there was no quid pro quo between President Trump and Ukraine.
In 2003 Vogel, then 34, was raising money to launch Portland Monthly Magazine and met with Sondland, a prominent figure in Portland, twice for a potential investment, according to the report.
The two got together for dinner in the spring of 2003 to discuss the investment and Sondland proposed walking to the nearly Hotel Lucia, which his hotel chain had acquired two years earlier.
He showed her the art, introduced her to staff then allegedly made a move on her as she was looking at one of the hotel rooms.
‘I remember seeing my hand drop from the door handle. I turned around, and he’s standing right behind me, and he says, “Can I just have a hug first?”‘ she said.
She tried to give him a friendly hug but recalled ‘as I pulled back, he grabs my face and goes to kiss me.’
Vogel said she deflected the kiss and tried to ‘preserve his ego’ by saying: ‘Ooh Gordon, you’re a married man, and you’d just break my heart.’
During a second meeting the two got lunch and during a drive back to their offices Sondland alleged placed his hand on her mid-thigh and left it there for about 10 minutes. She said she placed her own hand on top of his to prevent it from moving any higher up as they rode in silence.
‘God, I would love to have told him to shove it. To have kneed him in the balls. But I didn’t do that. It was precarious,’ she said.
She said that Sondland backed away from their investment talks when she rejected his advances.
Solid met Sondland in 2008 while working as a New York insurer seeking to do business with Sondland’s hotel company. She said that she went to Sondland’s West Hills home for a tour but discovered him naked from the waist down.
‘I get out to the pool house, and he is now naked from the waist down,’ Solid recalled.
‘He said something about, “I thought we could chat.” And I said something, trying to keep his ego intact — not that he needed that, not that it wouldn’t have been anyway — I said something like, “I can’t have that conversation.”‘
Sept said she was working as a staffer for City Commissioner Nick Fish in 2010 when she had an unwanted interaction with Sondland.
She agreed to meet Sondland for dinner to discuss her career, she was 27 years younger than him at the time.
Afterwards he invited her to continue the conversation at a bar. When she said she had to leave, Sondland paid the tab and repeatedly offered to walk her to her car, where he tried to forcibly kiss her.
‘He keeps insisting, and I’m nervous and afraid and I don’t want to make a scene, so I say, “OK, fine.”‘
Once at the car he leaned in for a hug.
‘So I give him a quick hug and he holds onto my shoulders and looks at me and pushes himself into me and tries to kiss me,’ she said.
She pushed him off, got into her car and sped away from the scene.
Sept says her relationship turned sour when she tried to send a professional follow-up email scheduling Sondland for a meeting with her boss. She said she never heard from him again about the state film omission job.
‘What was most important was that I maintain professionalism. I didn’t want him to think I was frazzled by this,’ she said.
Sept denied this interaction saying through a lawyer: ‘Ambassador Sondland did discuss Ms. Sept’s job prospects with her, but he denies any unwanted touching. He specifically denies attempting to kiss her, along with her claim that she pushed him away.’
In March 2018 he was selected as the next US ambassador to the European Union and he was confirmed for the position in June 2018.
However, Sondland has denied the allegations.
‘In decades of my career in business and civic affairs, my conduct can be affirmed by hundreds of employees and colleagues with whom I have worked in countless circumstances,’ he said DailyMail.com in a statement.
‘These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes. They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them.’
Sondland’s lawyer added to the outlet: ‘Notably, what each of these three women share in common is that they pursued Ambassador Sondland for financial and personal gain — an investment, a job, and insurance brokerage work — and he declined their proposals.’
Sondland is yet to reply to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.