March 19, 2018

Time for ‘Slumlord’ Jared Kushner to Go



President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner previously served as chief executive of his family’s real estate firm, Kushner Cos. (Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr/cc)


The findings “provide a window into the ethics of the business empire he ran before he went on to become one of the most trusted advisers to the President of the United States.”


By Jessica Corbett / 03.19.2018

When Jared Kushner was chief executive of Kushner Cos., his family’s New York City-based real estate firm, the company “routinely filed false paperwork with the city declaring it had zero rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings it owned across the city when, in fact, it had hundreds,” according to a report by the Associated Press.

Kushner stepped down from his role at Kushner Cos. last year, when he accepted a position as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, but he has recently come under fire for potential conflicts of interest and ethics violations regarding continued involvement with the real estate firm. His top-secret security clearance was downgraded last month amid heightened scrutiny over how his financial holdings may have influenced his actions on behalf of the White House.

The tenant rights watchdog group Housing Rights Initiative, the AP reports, “found the Kushner Cos. filed at least 80 false applications for construction permits in 34 buildings across New York City from 2013 to 2016, all of them indicating there were no rent-regulated tenants. Instead, tax documents show there were more than 300 rent-regulated units. Nearly all the permit applications were signed by a Kushner employee, including sometimes the chief operating officer.”

“While none of the documents during a three-year period when Kushner was CEO bore his personal signature,” the AP notes, “they provide a window into the ethics of the business empire he ran before he went on to become one of the most trusted advisers to the President of the United States.”

Kushner Cos., when reached for comment, blamed the false filings on third parties, claiming that it outsources document preparation. But no matter how the false filings occurred, they provide insight into how the firm was able to purchase three Queens apartment buildings in 2015, quickly conduct renovations, raise the rent, and then sell the buildings for a multimillion-dollar profit just two years later.

Norm Eisen, a former White House ethics chief and current chair of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), compared the revelation to Kushner’s troubled attempts to retain security clearance for his government role.

Others, including Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) wondered how, in light of recent reports, Kushner has held on to his post in the Trump administration.

In response to the AP‘s findings, several commenters labeled Kushner a “slumlord”—far from the first time the accusation has been levied at him.

“It’s bare-faced greed,” Housing Rights Initiative founder Aaron Carr told the AP. “The fact that the company was falsifying all these applications with the government shows a sordid attempt to avert accountability and get a rapid return on its investment.”


Originally published by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

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