Donald Trump’s upcoming fundraiser in Seattle at the end of the month will lack two major fundraisers, a Jew and a Muslim, who decided to withdraw their support for the Republican presidential nominee because of his attack on the family of a Muslim American fallen soldier.
Gordon Sondland and Bashar Wali have been partners in their joint hotel business for years. Both are Republicans and both were listed as hosts on the invitation sent out by Trump Victory, the candidate’s joint fundraising operation, for an August 30 fundraiser in Seattle.
But Trump’s recent attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan, following their appearance at the Democratic convention, led the Jewish and Muslim partners to distance themselves from the fundraising event, and from Trump in general.
In a statement made by a spokeswoman for Provenance Hotels, their joint company, to the Willamette Week Sondland and Wali made clear they want nothing to do with Trump’s event and that their names were put on the invitation without their knowledge.
“Mr. Trump’s statements have made it clear that his positions do not align with their personal beliefs and values,” spokeswoman Kate Buska said in the statement. In a reference to their faith and heritage, Sondland and Wali made clear that despite their past support for Republican candidates, they will not stand behind Trump.
Buska described Sondland as a first-generation American “whose parents were forced to flee Germany during the years leading up to World War II because they were persecuted for their faith.” Wali, the statement added “is a Muslim American who emigrated to this country from Syria.” She noted that because of Trump’s treatment of the Khan family “and the fact his constantly evolving positions diverge from their personal beliefs and values on so many levels, neither Mr. Sondland or Mr. Wali can support his candidacy.”
Despite Sondland’s departure, Trump’s Seattle event will have no shortage of Jewish funders. All other co-hosts listed on the invitation, except for RNC chair Reince Preibus, are Jewish. It also lists billionaire Martin Selig, who confirmed to the Seattle Times that he still supports Trump. Selig, one of Seattle’s biggest real estate developer, fled Nazi Germany as a child and is now a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Contact Nathan at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman