Raja Krishnamoorthi’s letter leads to White House probe of Jared Kushner

Jared Kushner (Courtesy of Youtube)

The Illinois Democrat had raised concerns with OGE is over loans received by Kushner’s family business.

Following a complaint from Indian American Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL, the White House is investigating whether President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has violated federal ethics rules.

David J. Apol, the Acting Director and General Counsel at United States Office of Government Ethics (OEG), in a letter addressed to Krishnamoorthi on Monday, said that he has directed White House attorneys to probe the allegation

The congressman had raised concerns that Kushner may have violated federal ethics rules by accepting over $500 million in loans from two financial institutions – Appolo and Citi Group.

Earlier this month, Krishnamoorthi wrote to OEG to evaluate Kushner’s actions after the New York Times reported that his company received the loans from financial entities after their executives met with Kushner in the White House.

Replying to the letter sent by Krishnamoorthi, Apol confirmed that an investigation into the matter is currently underway.

According to the Times, Apollo’s real estate arm – Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance – lent Kushner Companies $184 million to refinance the mortgage of a Chicago skyscraper. The company received a loan of $325 million loan from Citigroup Inc.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

Krishnamoorthi in the letter asked OEG whether it is ethical for a White House official who serves in a broad portfolio to meet officials of Citi and Apollo before each loan was disbursed to a firm owned by him and his family.

He requested OEG to provide an advisory opinion on the following matters:

1 The ethical implications of a Senior White House Official having personally guaranteed loans to a private business entity with large outstanding debt obligations;

2 The ethical implications of such an official meeting with potential investors and creditors in those business entities while in a position to directly benefit the investors and offer its principals favorable policy outcomes; and

3 Do the above actions by Mr.Kushner constitute a breach of his ethical obligations to the American people?

“I have discussed this matter with the White House Counsel’s Office in order to ensure that they have begun the process of ascertaining the facts necessary to determine whether any law or regulation has been violated,” wrote Apol. “During that discussion, the White House informed me that they had already begun this process.”

The Wall Street Journal said the White House declined to respond. The paper also added that a spokeswoman for the Kushner Cos. said it hasn’t received any inquiries from the White House Counsel’s office.

Abbe Lowell, the attorney representing Kushner, told the Journal that after a preliminary investigation into the allegation, it has “concluded there was no issues involving Jared.”

Lowell added that Kushner “was not involved with his former company after he entered government service; the transactions in question came after that; he had nothing to do with those transactions; the transactions had nothing to do with any of his meetings in the White House, and the people from the companies involved have confirmed that as well.”

Kushner has been at the helm of affairs of the Kushner business till the November 2016 election. Soon after his father-in-law was elected as President of the United States, he resigned from the company and sold his shares to family members. Apparently, Kushner retained some of his assets in multiple properties owned by the company. That include the properties that received loans from Apollo and Citi group.

The Kushner Cos is already facing investigation of Brooklyn US Attorney’s office and Securities and Exchange Commission over the use of EB-5 Visa financing for their projects.

The OGE oversees the executive branch ethics program and works with a community of ethics practitioners made up of nearly 5,000 ethics officials in more than 130 agencies to implement that program.

The office acts as a watchdog on government decisions, making sure that they are free from conflicts of interest, so that the public can have greater confidence in the integrity of executive branch programs and operations.

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