According to an Associated Press investigation, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner may benefit financially from a real estate program created by President Trump's 2017 tax bill. Sources tell the Associated Press that Ivanka lobbied extensively for the program, which was formally rolled out in April and directly affects several properties that Kushner has an interest in. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment.
Republicans' 2017 tax overhaul included a provision that allows the IRS, in collaboration with state governors, to designate certain areas "Opportunity Zones." Developers who invest in development projects in Opportunity Zones will receive significant tax breaks; the program is ostensibly meant to encourage real estate investment in low-income communities, and the Treasury announced the first Opportunity Zones in April.
Kushner comes from a powerful New York real estate family and worked in the industry long before his father-in-law was elected president. He currently holds large stakes in Kushner Companies, the family firm, as well as Cadre, another firm — and both stand to benefit greatly from the Trump administration's Opportunity Zones, according to the Associated Press's investigation.
Cadre announced that it will invest in major projects in several Opportunity Zones from Miami to Los Angeles, the Associated Press reports; Kushner Companies, meanwhile, is developing 13 projects in Opportunity Zones. Because Kushner holds significant interests in both companies, he could benefit financially from any tax breaks those projects are afforded under the Opportunity Zone program, according to the media outlet.
There's no indication that Ivanka or Jared played any role in designating any of the 8,700 Opportunity Zones. And in a statement to the Associated Press, White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said that "the White House has nothing to do with those decisions."
Nevertheless, the fact that Ivanka advocated for a program that her husband would benefit financially "creates a direct conflict of interest," Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel for the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the Associated Press.
“Jared Kushner’s interests are Ivanka Trump’s interests and vice versa," Canter said.
The Opportunity Zone project was promoted heavily by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Politico reported. Sean Smith, Scott's communications director, told the Associated Press that Scott and Ivanka discussed the program nearly a dozen times before it was rolled out. He also said that Kushner talked to the South Carolina senator about Opportunity Zones, but that "it was much more Ivanka than Jared." Additionally, Ivanka appeared at public panels and a White House event with the president earlier in the year promoting the initiative.
“Ivanka, would you like to say something?” the president asked Ivanka at that event. “You’ve been pushing this very hard.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, Kushner and Ivanka's ethics counsel Abbe Lowell said that Ivanka "has divested assets, set up trusts, removed herself from businesses and decisions about her investments."
"In addition, she adheres to the ethics advice she has received from counsel about what issues she can work on and those to which she is recused," Lowell said. He didn't address the contents of the Associated Press report.