White House financial disclosures: Ivanka, Kushner still benefit from business
The White House recently started to release the financial disclosure forms of 180 top officials including President Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Providing a glance into employees finances, the disclosures can potentially trigger a number of conflicts of interest, on top of those already identified and dealt with. Let us find out more!
The Donald Trump presidency has been subject to intense public scrutiny with respect to the conflicts of interests flowing from the Trump family's involvement in hotel and real estate businesses. Appointments, including those made to the Department of Justice and the National Labor Relations Board, drew criticism from political commentators. Ethics experts say these conflicts of interest give room for bias and are unconstitutional.
The Trump Organization, a 500 company conglomerate, works on areas including real estate and hospitality. Chaired by Donald Trump until the start of his Presidency, the organization is currently run by his sons Donald Jr and Eric Trump.
The Associated Press reports that Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Kushner hold assets worth $240 million. According to New York Times, Kushner holds assets worth $741 million. He would continue to benefit from membership in various trusts. While Kushner has already dissociated from 260 entities and sold off 58 businesses posing conflicts-of-interest, Ivanka would continue to hold a stake at the Trump International Hotel.
Political interest groups and foreign government representatives who stay at the hotel may attempt to gain political favours. According to Jamie Gorelick, the Trumps' Attorney dealing with ethics agreements, "the remaining conflicts of interests from a practical point of view are very narrow and manageable". Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary notes that the President himself is not required by law to disclose assets.
Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, holds assets between $13-56 million, including those within Bannon Strategic Advisors, a political consultancy valued at $25 million. Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager, holds assets valued at $31 million held "in cash or money market accounts". Gary Cohn, Director, National Economic Council is reported to hold $40 million mostly out of income from his previous Goldman Sachs employment.
Trump has highlighted the visual importance of not having conflicts of interest with various businesses. Officials have declined to divulge the number of millionaires/billionaires in top positions or details of their agreements with Office of Government Ethics on avoiding potential conflicts. However, his supporters argue Trump being rich makes him clean, as he doesn't need to fill his pockets through misuse of office.
The net worth of current White House staff is thought to be the highest in US history. While the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) classified finances of Obama administration's officials as "simple" or "moderate", Trump's officials finances are judged "complex" or "extremely complex".