Jared Kushner has made headlines lately for reportedly communicating with Russian officials during the Trump administration’s transition to the White House. Now, however, a new report points to even more seemingly sketchy behavior on the part of Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
Mr. Kushner reportedly used a legal loophole comparable to gerrymandering, to obtain $50 million in federal funding in order to build high-end condos in Jersey City, New Jersey, across from the Hudson River.
According to reports from The Washington Post, consultants working on Kushner’s real estate project got creative with the endeavor and created a map that “defined the area around 65 Bay Street as a swath of land that stretched nearly four miles and included some of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods,” while simultaneously omitting several wealthy neighborhoods in the area. The idea was to create the illusion that the tower would be built in an area with a high unemployment rate, thus allowing Kushner Companies to receive the $50 million in funding through the federal government’s EB-5 visa program.
Wealthy foreigners can receive a fast-track residence visa under the EB-5 program by investing at least $500,000 in a real estate project in an economically impoverished neighbourhood. The loophole in the program is reportedly legal, and “prominent members of both parties say [it] has been plagued by fraud and abuse.”
Pastor Shyrone Richardson of the World Outreach Christian Church works in an economically disadvantaged area of Jersey City, and told WaPo:
‘That’s very sad. Unfortunately, the people who are benefiting from this are not the people in this area.’
Apartments in the Bay Street building rent for $4,700 per month — a far cry from what most residents in the area would ever imagine being able to afford.
That said, some people involved in the carryout of the project believe Kushner Companies did anything wrong by using federal grants for the poor to build a business. A firm helping the company raise EB-5 funds for the project, U.S. Immigration Fund-NJ, believes the project helped create jobs for low-income residents in the area. The firm’s chief operating officer, Mark Giresi, told WaPo that the Bay Street project added 1,280 construction jobs that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to residents surrounding the area.
‘In large urban markets like Jersey City these types of real estate development projects create much-needed jobs, particularly in the construction industry across areas of the city that cover multiple census tracts.’
The Trump administration is reportedly toying with the idea of signing legislation that would make EB-5 gerrymandering much tougher, and Kushner has said he will recuse himself from any involvement in that decision, should the decision come under serious consideration.
But it seems Kushner doesn’t see a problem with manipulating a federal funding program — let alone one for a low-income area. In fact, Kushner Companies — which Mr. Kushner was the former CEO of before becoming President Trump’s senior adviser — is once again attempting to use the same program to fund another luxury property in Jersey City’s Journal Square neighborhood. This time, they’re seeking $150 million in funding.
Like father, like, uh, son-in-law? We’d say so.
Featured Image via Getty Images/The Washington Post.