This Week in Conflicts: Kushners Say Goodbye to 666 Property, Tracking Who’s Visiting Trump’s D.C. Hotel and Possible Hatch Act Violations


Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Donald J. Trump, speaking with U.S. military leaders after arriving in Baghdad, Iraq, April 3, 2017. (Image Credit: DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

This week, Kushner Companies rids 666 Fifth Avenue property from its portfolio, a new analysis sheds more light on who is visiting and spending money at President Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C., and allegations of Trump administration officials violating the Hatch Act.

666 Fifth Avenue in January 2007. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Americasroof at English Wikipedia)

Kushner Companies Says Goodbye to 666 Property

Kushner Companies struck a deal to get their property at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City off their hands.

As CNN reports,  the 1.5 million square foot property “was supposed to be the centerpiece of its portfolio, but instead had weighed it down for years.”

Last week, Brookfield Properties, a commercial real estate company, announced it acquired a 100% leasehold interest in the building for 99 years. Exact financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed but Brookfield did announce it is planning a major redevelopment of the building.

According to CNN, “the Kushners bought the Fifth Avenue skyscraper in 2007 for a then-record $1.8 billion. It was supposed to have been the crown jewel of their real estate empire, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, played a prominent role in the deal.”

Kushner has resigned as the chief executive of Kushner Companies but still retains most of his stake in the company. As President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, experts say the combination of his broad White House responsibilities and personal business interests could create real and perceived conflicts of interest.

Getting rid of the property also meant Kushner Companies, “will no longer face a $1.2 billion debt payment due in months,” according to Bloomberg.

Trump International Hotel, D.C.

Big Spenders at Trump’s D.C. Hotel

Another news organization is tracking spending and visitors to President Trump’s Washington D.C. hotel.

“Eighteen months into the Trump presidency, an NBC News analysis of public filings and social media indicates substantial spending at the hotel by federal agencies, Trump’s political allies and foreign governments,” NBC News reports. “Trump supporters enjoy coming to the bar and cavernous lobby to see and be seen, and for them it’s not a bad thing if a member of the administration or the Trump family happens to be there to notice they are patronizing the hotel.”

NBC News found foreign government leaders, U.S. government agencies, political organizations, foreign dignitaries and more, flocking to the hotel and ultimately giving money to President Trump’s company, the Trump Organization.

Financial disclosures show President Trump took in more than $40 million from the hotel last year while Ivanka Trump took in $3.9 million. President Trump still owns his businesses, but his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have day-to-day control of the companies.

Why are people flocking to the hotel? One Trump supporter told NBC News, “‘who doesn’t want to come and have a chance to see the vice president, the secretary of the treasury, Kellyanne Conway or even the president himself?’”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at a White House Press Briefing, May 2017. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, White House)

Hatch Act Violations?

Ethics watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed complaints against 10 Trump administration officials for allegedly violating the Hatch Act.

The complaints were filed with the Office of Special Counsel to investigate whether or not the officials violated the 1939 law that bars government employees from engaging in campaigns. The law is meant to ensure federal employees are not influenced by partisan political purposes.

As Newsweek reports, “because the president is officially running for re-election, that means, according to the OSC, ‘while on duty or in the workplace, employees may not: wear, display, or distribute items with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ or any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns; use hashtags such as #MAGA or #ResistTrump in social media posts or other forums; or display non-official pictures of President Trump.’”

The ten officials being accused of the violations are:

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary for President Trump
  • Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s Office of Budget and Management director
  • Alyssa Farah, press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence
  • Helen Aguirre Ferré, President Trump’s director of media affairs
  • Hogan Gidley, President Trump’s deputy press secretary
  • Jacob Wood, a spokesperson for the Office of Budget and Management director
  • Jessica Ditto, White House deputy director of communications
  • Lindsay Walters, White House deputy press secretary
  • Madeleine Westerhout, President Trump’s personal secretary
  • Raj Shah, President Trump’s principal deputy press secretary

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” presents a comprehensive, free, searchable database detailing all of President Donald J.Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as president of the United States. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, learn more about conflicts of interest at every level of government and search our database. If you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking you can email us or contact us here to contribute to the project.

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.