Washington, DC—An association of more than 200 restaurants and thousands of restaurant workers is joining Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s (CREW) landmark emoluments lawsuit against President Trump along with and a luxury hotel event booker. The restaurants joined as part of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, which consists of more than 25,000 restaurant workers and restaurants owned by restaurateurs including Tom Colicchio, Alice Waters, Andy Shalal and James Mallios.
The lawsuit, first filed by CREW in January, seeks to find the president in violation of the emoluments clauses of the Constitution, which prohibit Trump from receiving anything of value from foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without the approval of Congress, and prohibit him from receiving benefits from the federal and state governments apart from his congressionally approved compensation.
“We would’ve liked to be dropping our case because the president got in line with the Constitution,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “Instead, the violations we anticipated when we brought our case became much more concrete.”
The members of ROC now see potential lost business, as foreign governments book events at Trump properties in a possible attempt to curry favor with the president.
“On behalf of the nearly 25,000 workers members, 200 restaurant members, and thousands of consumer members of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, we proudly stand as plaintiff with CREW to sue the president for violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” ROC United Co-Founder and Co-Director Saru Jayaraman said. “Undoubtedly, if foreign governments feel compelled to use Trump establishments over other restaurants especially those in our restaurant association RAISE (Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards Everywhere), it hurts the restaurant industry. ROC United stands with CREW to tell the president that the age of unconstitutionality is over.”
“This isn’t about politics, I’m a registered Republican and I believe nothing is more important that our Constitutional protections,” said Washington, DC-based events booker Jill Phaneuf. “I joined this lawsuit because the president is taking business away from me and others with unfair business practices that violate the Constitution.”
CREW, ROC and Phaneuf are represented in the case by an all-star team of top constitutional scholars, ethics experts and litigators who have combined to argue 45 cases before the Supreme Court. The lawyers on the case include CREW’s board chair and vice-chair Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents, constitutional law scholars Erwin Chemerinsky, Laurence H. Tribe and Zephyr Teachout, Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler PLLC and Joseph Sellers of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
The amended complaint, which will be filed first thing Tuesday morning, also adds violations that have occurred in the last three months including the federal government’s decision to permit President Trump to continue leasing his Washington, DC hotel in violation of the lease – an valuable and unconstitutional benefit – and the Chinese government’s granting of valuable trademarks to the President soon after he had reversed positions to support a “one China policy.”