Asian American Hotel Owners Association

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) is a hotel/hospitality industry trade association with approximately 14,000 members who operate more than 20,000 hotels in the U.S.[1] AAHOA has sued the City of Los Angeles to block a minimum wage hike and has opposed the ruling in a recent case declaring that the major franchisor McDonald's was a joint employer of franchise employees whose labor rights were allegedly violated.

News and Controversies

Member of Anti-NLRB "Coalition to Save Local Businesses"

AAHOA is a member of the Coalition to Save Local Businesses, a coalition of groups that oppose the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) 2014 "joint-employer" ruling, which for the first time held a major franchisor jointly accountable with franchise owners for labor law violations. Pratik Patel, Chair of AAHOA, also serves as co-chair of the coalition. In a February 2015 press release, Patel said, "[T]he National Labor Relations Board's action could undermine all of the hard work our members have put into making their hotels successful. We strongly oppose any action that would diminish the relationship between hoteliers and their employees by wresting control of our members' privately-owned small businesses [sic]."[2]

Lawsuit against City of Los Angeles over Hotel Worker Pay

On December 16, 2014, the AAHOA and the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles in an attempt to block a 2014 city ordinance that raised wages for workers at large hotels. As described by the L.A. Times, the suit "contends that the City Council's decision to impose a $15.37 per hour minimum wage is preempted by federal labor law and therefore unenforceable."[3] The Center for Media and Democracy reported that the two groups "argue in the lawsuit that the city has created an 'insidious mechanism that improperly aids the Hotel Workers' Union,'" and pointed out similar suits in Seattle by the International Franchise Association, and in San Diego by a group bankrolled by AH&LA.[4]

In a press release, AAHOA argued that the L.A. wage ordinance "attempts to exercise power beyond the limits of the City's authority." Then-interim president of AAHOA Chip Rogers claimed, "The City Council doesn't have the authority to rewrite federal labor law."[5]

Lawsuit by Members against AAHOA

On August 12, 2014, nine AAHOA members filed a lawsuit against AAHOA. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the lawsuit alleged that directors and officers of AAHOA "have engaged in misuses of the group's funds, manipulated bid processes for contracts, destroyed meeting minutes and misdirected charitable donations." In a response, Board Chair Pratik Patel "called the lawsuit 'wasteful and frivolous,'" and said, "We will vigorously defend our association against such reckless claims."[6] On August 20, a judge rejected the case on procedural grounds,[7] and on August 22, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said that they would file an amended suit.[8]

Political Influence

Lobbying

AAHOA reported $80,000 in federal lobbying expenditures in 2014, including $50,000 to the firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld and $30,000 to the firm Squire Patton Boggs. Its registered lobbyists are ED Pagano, Barney J. Skladany, Jr., and Anurag Varma.[9]

Listed federal issues in 2014 included:[9]

  • Issues regarding S. 1188 and H.R. 2575 provisions on work hours
  • H.R. 2131 (Skills Visa Act), S. 744 (Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act), H.R. 1772 (Legal Workforce Act), H.R. 1354 (Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act of 2013)
  • Small business/hospitality industry access to commercial credit; reauthorization of SBA 504 loan re-financing program -- H.R. 1240, S. 289
  • Tax reform - 1031 exchange program
  • Issues regarding JOLT Act (H.R. 1354), including improvements to visa waiver program and other visa-related procedures regarding travel and tourism to the US; reauthorization of BRAND USA program

Political Contributions

AAHOA's political action committee (PAC) reported spending $247,319 in the 2014 election cycle, including $175,500 in contributions to candidates, of whom 66 percent were Republicans and 34 percent were Democrats.[10]

Top candidate recipients included:[10]

Senate:

  • Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), $5,000
  • John Cornyn (R-TX), $5,000
  • Jack Kingston (R-GA), $5,000
  • Mitch McConnell (R-KY), $5,000
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR), $5,000

House:

  • Ami Bera (D-CA), $10,000
  • Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), $10,000


Personnel

President Chip Rogers

Chip Rogers became the president of AAHOA in March 2015. He had previously served as interim president and as vice president of government affairs and public relations. Rogers served six terms in the Georgia State Assembly and was Senate majority leader for two terms.[11] He was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) during his time in office, was ALEC's Treasurer as of November 2012, ALEC State Chair of Georgia in at least 2011 and 2012, and received the State Chair of the Year Award in 2011. He received a total of at least $7,895.91 in corporate-funded ALEC "scholarships" to go on trips to upscale resorts with corporate lobbyists, according to data from 2006 to 2008.[12] He also worked as a hotel industry consultant, including for AAHOA, during his tenure in Georgia state government.[13]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Controversies as Georgia State Senator

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Roger made the decision not to seek re-election to the Georgia Senate in 2012 "after a series of missteps, including a failed bank loan and public disclosure of Rogers' work for a sports gambling network."[14]

In 2007, Rogers and a business partner had taken out a $2.3 million loan to buy a hotel and reportedly "were struggling to make payments almost immediately after they signed the loan documents." They were sued for default in 2010, eventually making a deal to pay back only $1.2 million.[15] While in the George Senate, Rogers also reportedly "received national attention after inviting his peers to attend a meeting at the Capitol about Agenda 21, a two-decades-old United Nations plan to promote sustainable development. Rogers' invited speaker said the plan was a conspiracy to grab private property through rezoning and planned-use ordinances," according to the Journal-Constitution.[14]

After leaving the State Senate, Rogers took a position with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB). CBS Atlanta News reported that Georgia's governor "created the taxpayer-funded position for Rogers after fellow Republicans voted the former senator out of his leadership post in November." Bryan Long of the advocacy group A Better Georgia called the position a "golden parachute."[16]

Fired from GA Public Broadcasting for Violating Ethics, Employment Rules with AAHOA Job

Rogers was fired by Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) in 2014 due to his simultaneously holding a full-time job with AAHOA in violation of GPB policy, as reported by Fox 5 Atlanta and the advocacy group A Better Georgia. While he held the position with GPB, which carried a $150,000 per year salary, Rogers was also working for AAHOA as its director of government affairs. Fox 5 Atlanta released an audio recording from 2013 with an AAHOA representative introducing Rogers:

"I want to bring up the director of our government affairs and the former Senate Majority Leader of the State of Georgia, and he's staffed our Washington, D.C. office and now heads all our activities on a full-time basis. I'm proud to introduce Chip Rogers."[17]

In a letter to Rogers from Georgia Public Broadcasting announcing his termination, the company stated:

"You have violated several employment policies of GPB relating to political activity, outside or dual employment, time and attendance, teleworking and the code of ethics."[18]

While employed by GPB, Rogers had also come under criticism for failing to disclose to GPB that he owned a competing radio station -- WYXC -- and for failing to inform the FCC of the change in ownership when he took over the station.[16]

Key Staff

As of March 2015:[19]

  • Chip Rogers, President (previously served as Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Relations)
  • Don Bollmer, Vice President of Finance
  • Geetika Rana, Vice President of Membership & HR
  • Scott Stallings, Vice President of Operations
  • James Jenkins, Vice President of Sales
  • Autumn Canaday, Director of PR & Communications
  • Jenna Mink, Public Relations Assistant
  • Michael Belitzky, Director of State and Local Government Affairs
  • Jordan Heiliczer, Government Affairs Representative
  • Christina Perez, Government Affairs Representative
  • Kathryn Stone, Managing Attorney & Director of Internal Governance
  • Chirag K. Shah, Government Affairs Manager & Policy Counsel

Board of Directors

As of March 2015:[20]

Officers:

  • Pratik R. Patel, Chairman. President, REM Hospitality.
  • Jay R. (Jimmy) Patel, Vice Chairman. President, Jai Amba Maa (JAM) Hospitality.
  • Bharat (Bruce) Patel, Treasurer
  • Bhavesh B. Patel, Secretary. President, ADM Hotels.
  • Chip Rogers, Interim President and Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Relations

Regional Directors:

  • Pratik Bhakta
  • Chandresh Brahmbhatt
  • Anand G. Patel
  • Bhavesh B. Patel
  • Biran Patel
  • Dilipkumar S. (Dipak) Patel
  • Dipak N. (Danny) Patel
  • Hitesh S. Patel
  • Jay Patel
  • Jayesh R. Patel
  • Jayesh (Jay) Patel
  • Kapil P. (Ken) Patel
  • Mahesh (Mike) Patel
  • Pratik R. Patel
  • Ramesh K. (R.K.) Patel
  • Suresh (SP) Patel
  • Vinaykumar (Vinay) Patel
  • Vipin (Bavaji) Patel
  • Dinesh S. (Dan) Rama

Directors at Large

  • Jitendra (J.D.) Deva
  • Jayesh (Jay) Lallu
  • Jagruti Panwala (listed as Female Director at Large, Eastern Division)
  • Hitesh (HP) Patel
  • Ketan Patel
  • Komal (Tina) Patel (listed as Female Director at Large, Western Division)
  • Sunil B. Patel
  • Binita A. Patel (listed as Young Professional Director)

History

According to its website, AAHOA was founded in 1989 "with the goals of addressing discrimination issues and of increasing awareness of Asian Americans in the hospitality industry," according to AAHOA's website. In 1994, it merged with another group formed for similar purposes, the Indo American Hospitality Association (founded in 1985 as the Midsouth Indemnity Association).[21]

Indian-Americans make up around half of hotel and motel owners in the United States. The surname "Patel" is a common Indian surname.[22][23]

IRS Forms 990

  • Asian American Hotel Owners Association, 2013 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, November 10, 2014.
  • Asian American Hotel Owners Association, 2012 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, November 11, 2013.
  • Asian American Hotel Owners Association, 2011 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, October 29, 2012.

Contact Information

Corporate Office
1100 Abernathy Road Suite 1100 Atlanta, GA 30328-6707

E-mail: info@aahoa.com
Telephone: (404) 816-5759
Member Fax: (404) 816-6260
Vendor Fax: (404) 816-6123
Help Desk Hotline: (888) MY AAHOA/692-2462

Website: http://www.aahoa.com/

References

  1. Asian American Hotel Owners Association, "About AAHOA," organizational website, accessed March 12, 2015.
  2. Asian American Hotel Owners Association, "AAHOA Joins Coalition to Save Local Businesses," press release, February 10, 2015.
  3. David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes, "Industry groups sue over L.A.'s minimum wage for hotel workers," L.A. Times, December 16, 2014.
  4. Mary Bottari and Jonas Persson, "Hotel Lobby Sues Los Angeles to Block 'Extreme' Wages," Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch.org, January 12, 2015.
  5. Asian American Hotel Owners Association, "http://www.aahoa.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Press_Releases1&CONTENTID=8338&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm AH&LA, AAHOA SUE CITY OF LOS ANGELES; ORDINANCE EXCEEDS LIMITS OF CITY AUTHORITY]," press release, December 15, 2014.
  6. Amy Wenk, "Lawsuit: Hotel owners association riddled with 'theft, embezzlement and corruption,'" Atlanta Business Chronicle, August 15, 2014.
  7. Richard Springer, "Judge Rejects AAHOA Lawsuit That Alleged Misuse of Funds," India West, August 28, 2014.
  8. Judy Maxwell, "AAHOA court battle not over," Asian Hospitality, August 22, 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Center for Responsive Politics, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, lobbying profile, Open Secrets database, accessed March 13, 2015.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Center for Responsive Politics, Asian American Hotel Owners Association PAC, PAC profile, Open Secrets database, accessed March 13, 2015.
  11. "Chip Rogers has been named President at Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) in Atlanta - GA, USA," HospitalityNet, March 1, 2015.
  12. Center for Media and Democracy, Buying Influence: How the American Legislative Exchange Council Uses Corporate-Funded "Scholarships" to Send Lawmakers on Trips with Corporate Lobbyists, organizational report, updated August 2013.
  13. Asian American Hotel Owners Association and Chip Rogers, "Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers Joins AAHOA In Responding To Wall Street Journal Article and Opposing OTC Legislation," Op-Ed and organizational website, July 8, 2010.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Chip Rogers leaving state Senate," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 4, 2012.
  15. "In failed hotel venture, Ga. Republicans appear to cut loan nearly in half," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 27, 2012.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Jeff Chirico, "GPB: Chip Rogers did not violate employment policies by owning radio station," CBS News Atlanta, October 23, 2013.
  17. Bryan Long, "New audio uncovered in Chip Rogers scandal," A Better Georgia, May 1, 2014. Accessed March 13, 2015.
  18. Randy Travis, "GPB fired Rogers for 'political activity' and 'outside' job," Fox 5 Atlanta, May 8, 2014.
  19. Asian American Hotel Owners Association, "AAHOA Staff," organizational website, accessed March 12, 2015.
  20. Asian American Hotel Owners Association, "Board of Directors," organizational website, accessed March 12, 2015.
  21. Asian American Hotel Owners Association, "History," organizational website, accessed March 12, 2015.
  22. Tunku Varadarajan, "A Patel Motel Cartel?," The New York Times Magazine, July 4, 1999.
  23. Pawan Dhingra, Life behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream, Stanford University Press, 2012.