Congressman Alan Lowenthal has written a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew Jacob Lew, requesting an investigation into the potential sale of the Westin Hotel to companies tied to China or other foreign states.
The letter, sent December 8, cites the investigation of the sale of another notable hotel, the Hotel del Coronado, as halting its purchase by a Chinese insurance group due to its proximity to a naval base.
“The sale of the Westin Long Beach raises national security questions because the hotel is next door to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Los Angeles/Long Beach Sea Port office, which handles sensitive information related to interstate commerce, and because the hotel’s clients have included the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, some of which hosted foreign diplomats,” writes Lowenthal.
Lowenthal also delves into Obama’s ending of the frequenting of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel—a move the Associated Press attributed to fears around espionage.
“In its coverage of the President’s decision to abandon the Waldorf, the New York Times noted Anbang’s ‘deep ties to Beijing’s ruling elite,’” reads the letter. “The U.S. State Department cautions Americans visiting China that “hotel rooms (including meeting rooms), offices, cars, taxis, telephones, Internet usage, and fax machines may be monitored onsite or remotely, and personal possessions in hotel rooms, including computers, may be searched without your consent or knowledge.”
Other questions asked for investigation purposes include:
- Do any potential buyers of the Westin Long Beach have ties to the Chinese government or other foreign state actors?
- What safeguards are or will be put in place to protect the exposure of sensitive national security and commercial data processed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Los Angeles/Long Beach Sea Port office from foreign surveillance?
- Will United States federal agencies be advised or required to avoid patronizing and hosting foreign diplomats at the Westin Long Beach?
- What assurances will security-conscious Westin Long Beach customers have that sensitive information will be protected from unwanted surveillance in the hotel under new ownership?
Prior to the Westin’s for sale listing, the hotel owners had been dogged by weekly protests and a lawsuit alleging wage theft and work violations. In a trip made last September, Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce said board members of the entity that owns the Westin were "extremely receptive"
Representatives for Lowenthal did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment at the time of publication.