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War of the hotel empires: Trump’s Panama staff kicked out Marriott executives

War of the hotel empires: Trump’s Panama staff kicked out Marriott executives
[Photo: Flickr user Maria Mertens]

Accused of misconduct, he fires back by punishing his accusers and loudly complaining about their vendetta. Sounds like another day in the Trump White House–except that this time it’s his business empire.

The Trump Organization, locked in a bitter dispute with the condo owners at its Ocean Club complex in Panama, recently booted several visiting executives from Marriott, asking them to leave the property, reports the Associated Press. And the head of Trump Hotels, Eric Danziger, called up Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson to complain about the visit. (The Trump Organization’s general counsel insists that the call was not intended to pressure Marriott.)

It all stems from the owners’ association accusing the Trump team of financial misconduct and mismanagement in a $15 million arbitration claim, essentially firing them. The Trump Organization responded with a $200 million counterclaim. In its search for a new hotel operator, the hotel’s investors invited the Marriott executives to tour the property, reportedly much to the displeasure of Trump staffers.

The incident raises questions yet again about the potential for conflicts of interest, since Marriott is a prominent U.S. company, with major business and policy interests before the Trump administration. As Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, told the AP: “if you’re a big company, you’d really have to think twice before getting into a fight with one of the president’s companies.”