Amid ongoing concerns about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's perceived conflicts of interest as the married couple continues to serve as unpaid senior advisers to her father, President Donald Trump, new financial disclosure filings reveal they raked in at least $82 million in outside income last year.
The figure alone as well as the contrast with limitations on and past practices by other government officials are raising the question of whether they are behaving as "humble public servants." As NPR reporter Susan Davis pointed out on Twitter, "For comparison, members of the U.S. House and senior House staff can't earn more than $28,000 in outside income in 2018."
Members of the administration and people close to the couple have often mentioned the "sacrifices" they have made to take their positions at the White House. In a recent interview, Jared's father Charles Kushner—who served time in prison for tax evasion, witness tampering, and making illegal campaign donations—lamented all that his son and daughter-in-law have purportedly "sacrificed to go into government," and claimed ethics watchdogs are "jerks" who "can't get a real job."
WH spokesman Hogan Gidley in Jan. 2018: Ivanka and Jared are "serving this nation, sacrificing in their service."
Their sacrifice was earning $82 million last year, including $3.9 million from the Trump Hotel in D.C. https://t.co/WHAx6x68uu
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) June 11, 2018
Trump earned millions from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.—which ethics experts have accused her father of improperly benefiting from during his time in office—as well as the trust that oversees her eponymous clothing brand and her severance from the Trump Organization, while Kushner took in at least $70 million from dozens of companies connected to his family's real estate firm.
However, alluding to the fact that Kushner has revised his federal ethics disclosure filing due to mistakes and omissions at least 40 times, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) pointed to public skepticism about whether his reported income will change.
Jared Kushner’s minimum wealth rose last year, according to his financial disclosure. Of course, that number might change if he suddenly realizes that he “inadvertently omitted” some assets again.https://t.co/XfaVi87tQo
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— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) June 12, 2018
A spokesman for Abbe Lowell, the couple's ethics counsel, claimed to the Washington Post that Trump and Kushner "have complied with the rules and restrictions as set out by the Office of Government Ethics" since joining the administration, and "their net worth remains largely the same, with changes reflecting more the way the form requires disclosure than any substantial difference in assets or liabilities"—but concerns about their financial dealings persist.
As the New York Times noted, the filing also shows that during their first year serving in the White House, the pair "remained investors through various vehicles and trusts, which bought and sold as much as $147 million of real estate and other assets," activity that has some ethics experts warning about conflicts of interest.
"We don't have insight into who is buying and selling stuff, so we don't know if it's market value," said Virginia Canter, the executive branch ethics counsel at CREW, and an associate counsel in the Obama and Clinton administrations. "Who is financing these transactions? Is it some unknown LLC? How do we know it isn't a sovereign wealth fund from Saudi Arabia or some other place?"
Observers also called into question the timing of the release. The filings were made public Monday night, as the president was gearing up to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore for one of the most closely watched diplomatic summits in recent memory.
Weird coincidence that Jared and Ivanka's $82 million payday was made public right before TV news began eight hours of non-stop blather about the Trump-Kim summit
— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) June 12, 2018