- The New York City Council and a tenants rights group on Monday said they are launching an investigation into White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s former company.
- The investigation centers on the company purportedly faking documents about 34 of its New York properties.
- The documents included work permits and falsified information about the number of tenants living in some of the company’s buildings.
- The executive director of the tenants group said, “This is just the tip of a very dirty iceberg.”
- Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu has called on Kushner to be stripped of his White House access.
The New York City Council and a local tenants rights group announced on Monday that they would launch a joint investigation into the real estate company formerly headed by Jared Kushner, a top aide to President Donald Trump, over alleged falsification of building permits.
The group and a city councilman said at a press conference that they had uncovered evidence that Kushner Companies, the developer headed by Kushner until early last year, had falsified more than 80 work permits involving 34 buildings in New York.
They made the allegations at the press conference in front of the 41-story tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan controlled by Kushner Companies. The tower has been at the center of potential conflicts of interest involving Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law.
Aaron Carr, executive director of Housing Rights Initiative, said the company failed to disclose the existence of rent-stabilized units in buildings, a move that allowed it to skirt tighter oversight during renovations and harass tenants.
Carr also accused the company of using construction as a means to harass tenants with rent controls and force them to leave. The tactics, employed by other landlords, have led to a significant drop in affordable housing in the city, he said.
“This is not a clerical error. This is a window into the Kushner Companies’ business practices,” Carr said. “This is just the tip of a very dirty iceberg.”
‘This is fraud’
Following the news of the announcement, Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu said Kushner should step down from his White House role as senior adviser.
“This is fraud,” Lieu tweeted Monday. “Jared Kushner was head of Kushner Cos at the time. Kushner should have his downgraded security clearance stripped right now until investigation completed. He should be nowhere near the White House
Christine Taylor, spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said the company values its tenants, takes its legal and ethical responsibilities seriously, corrects mistakes, and would not intentionally falsify any filings in order to harass tenants.
“The investigation is trying to create an issue where none exists,” she said.
Ritchie Torres, who chairs a city council committee on public housing, said at the press conference that there was a direct link between the falsification of permits and the decline in affordable housing in New York.
Torres said the investigation would lead to the publication of a report, that he would work to pass legislation to bolster oversight of the permitting process and would make a criminal referral if there was evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Torres said he was in confidential talks with prosecutors, but did not say which ones. He said any criminal referral would be to either the district attorney or the state attorney general.