Hotel Says Republicans Ducked a 3-Figure Tab
CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) - The Southern Republican Leadership Conference booked nearly every room in the Charleston Place hotel for the Republican primary in January, and then skipped out on the $227,872 bill, the luxury venue claims in the city's court of common pleas.
Charleston Place says the Jan. 19-22, 2012, reservation was made 10 months in advance, and that South Carolina political operative Robert C. Cahaly signed the agreement. The contract was allegedly amended with one month to spare on Dec. 20, 2011.
Under the terms of the contract, the hotel was to provide the Republican guests with rooms, food, beverage and other services, according to the complaint. Payment of all outstanding charges was to be made at the conclusion of the conference, the hotel says.
"Plaintiff has made demand upon the defendants for payment of this balance but the defendants have refused to pay," according to the complaint.
In a Jan. 23 blog post on conference's website, the group said its event established "a new standard of significance."
Attributed to "SRLC Staff," the paragraph-long post offers an effusive "Thanks to all the attendees, sponsors, and staff of SRLC 2012!
"Our speakers, presidential candidates, panels, and globally-televised presidential debate made SRLC 2012 the most notable and covered SRLC in history," the post states. "The goal of any SRLC is to have an impact on party and presidential politics. SRLC 2012's impact on the race for president especially South Carolina's 'First in the South' presidential primary secures its place among the most successful Republican conferences ever."
The hotel's complaint asks the court to pierce corporate veil so it pursue Cahaly and "such other individuals who may come to be identified and determined responsible."
In reality, the conference "was grossly undercapitalized, failed to observe corporate formalities, was insolvent, and was mere used as a façade for the operations of the defendant Cahaly," the lawsuit states. "Upon information and belief, the defendant Cahaly, an individual businessman, has sought to hide from the normal consequences of carefree entrepreneuring by doing so through a corporate shell."
"Due to their incompetence, the defendants failed to properly plan or manage the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, and it was poorly attended," the hotel says. "The conference was so poorly attended as to cause one Republican candidate, Newt Gingrich, to cancel his appearance."
"Poor attendance caused many of the conference sponsors to leave the conference," the complaint also states. "Poor attendance left the defendants responsible for a significant payment to the plaintiff under the terms of the contract."
But at 3:01 p.m. on the day they were meant to check out of the hotel, the defendants allegedly emailed its management and canceled the meeting at which they were supposed to settle their bill.
In the email, the defendants "made the following false, fraudulent and unsubstantiated claims in an effort to evade their responsibility for payment ... that there had been 'inappropriate sharing of privileged SRLC/Charleston Place information'; that there were 'various difficulties with refunds or adjustments'; and that 'the overall treatment of [the SRCL's] staff by some of the hotel staff [had to] be addressed, especially [the hotel manager's] instructing of an SRLC staffer to engage in illegal activity,'" according to the complaint.
"Defendants contended that these fabricated claims required resolution 'before committing to and executing final payment,' and their attorney would 'be in touch to schedule a meeting early this week,'" the hotel says.
Repeated attempts have allegedly been unsuccessful at scheduling a meeting.
The hotel wants full payment of the $227,872 bill, plus punitive damages.
It is represented by Allan R. Holmes of Gibbs & Holmes.