Marc Kasowitz and a Maelstrom over Collusion with Russia – The Leviev Connection and The old NY Times Building

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Trump’s Russia lawyer faces conflict-of-interest questions over $296m Kushner deal

The lawyer privately advising Donald Trump on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is head of a law firm that was involved in the sale of a prestigious piece of New York real estate to Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law, in a deal that could fall under the spotlight of the same inquiry.

Marc Kasowitz, a member of the New York bar who has represented Trump in his business dealings for 15 years, was brought on board by the president last month to provide personal legal advice relating to the Russian inquiry now being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. The appointment has placed Kasowitz at the center of the legal maelstrom over the investigation into potential collusion between Russia and elements of Trump’s presidential campaign.

An investigation by the Guardian has found that Kasowitz’s law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres, legally represented the owners of the former New York Times building in Times Square, Manhattan, in a 2015 deal in which part of the property was sold to Kushner for $296m.

The Washington Post has reported that a subsequent loan of $285m from Deutsche Bank to Kushner Companies, relating to the purchase of the building, could fall under the remit of the Mueller investigation given Deutsche Bank’s scandal-riven reputation. The involvement of Kasowitz’s firm as a key legal player in the initial sale adds a further possible twist as the special counsel’s inquiry gathers momentum.

Questions have already been raised about possible conflicts of interest between the lawyer’s role as Trump’s private attorney in the Russian inquiry and his work for various other clients, among them Russia’s largest bank OJSC Sberbank, which he represents in a corporate dispute lodged in US federal court.

The Guardian asked Kasowitz, via his spokesman, to respond to the potential conflict of interest relating to his firm’s role as attorney on the sale of the Times Square building to Kushner but he did not respond before publication. After publication, the spokesman send in a statement: “There are no conflicts under any standard or by any definition.”

Trump’s connections with Kasowitz’s law firm go much further than just his personal attorney, raising other potential conflict of interest issues. Another of its partners, David Friedman, was appointed by the president as ambassador to Israel; its senior counsel, Joe Lieberman, was considered by Trump as replacement director of the FBI after the president fired James Comey but pulled out of the running, citing potential conflicts of interest with Kasowitz as the president’s private legal counsel; and yet another partner, Edward McNally, is reportedly in the running to replace Preet Bharara as US attorney for the southern district of New York, following a similar Trump sacking.

ProPublica has alleged that Kasowitz himself bragged to friends that he played a role in having Bharara fired, by telling Trump: “This guy is going to get you.” One of the major investigations conducted by the southern district of New York under Bharara was allegedly to look into Deutsche Bank’s involvement in alleged Russian money-laundering.

The Guardian invited Kasowitz to confirm or deny the ProPublica account, but he did not respond.

The old New York Times building is a neo-gothic styled building fronting Times Square, which had been a home to printing presses since the first year of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. Located at 229 West 43rd Street in Manhattan, the building was declared a New York City designated landmark in 2000.

At the time of the sale to Kushner, the building was owned by Lev Leviev, an Israeli citizen born in the former Soviet Union in what is now Uzbekistan. His company, Africa Israel Investments, bought the Times Square property in 2007 for $525m.

State records show that Africa Israel’s Delaware LLCs, including its subsidiary that bought the former New York Times building, are registered at 40 Wall Street, Trump’s property over the road from the New York Stock Exchange. The office block has “The Trump Building” emblazoned over its entrance in gold capital letters, and was also the home of the now defunct Trump University.

Leviev is one of Israel’s richest businessmen, having made a fortune partly in diamond mining in Africa. He has claimed that he is a “true friend” of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

In a statement to the Guardian, the Leviev Group of Companies said that Leviev had indeed met Putin a few times though only in his capacity as president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Commonwealth of Independent States (the former Soviet Union). Leviev “does not have a personal relationship with the Russian premier” and the comment that he was a “true friend” referred to Putin’s help to the “Jewish community in Russia”.

Leviev’s company has had a number of contacts with the Trump family circle that go further than Kushner. Rich Marin, a former chairman and CEO of Africa Israel USA, has told the Guardian that he had a meeting with Trump himself as well as his daughter Ivanka about the possibility of creating a Trump hotel inside the Times Square property.

That deal never materialized, and it was several years later that Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, stepped into the breach. Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show that the sale of the retail portion of 229 West 43rd Street to Kushner was made in an off-market transaction of the sort normally used by owners desiring a quick sale, where speed is more important than price.

Given the lack of competition inherent in such trades, they often give an advantage to the purchaser seeking to acquire property at a bargain.

Kushner acquired the building for $296m from Africa Israel USA and its partner in the deal Five Mile Capital, with Kasowitz’s law firm representing the sellers. The transaction included four storeys of retail space and two sub-basement floors.

The upper 12 floors of the old New York Times building, which are used for offices, were sold to Blackstone in 2011 for $160m. When both sales are put together, Leviev let go of the entire building after owning it for eight years and committing millions of dollars in renovations for a total price that was beneath the $525m he had originally paid for it.

The Guardian contacted Kushner Companies and Five Mile Capital about the sale, but neither commented.

In a statement to the Guardian, the Leviev Group of Companies said: “The Kushner Companies’ offer for the retail space was the most attractive offer ever submitted, and was higher than the building’s appraisal.”

Kushner sealed the refinancing deal with Deutsche Bank and SL Green over his half of the former New York Times building last October, in the dying days of the presidential campaign. The package, reported by Kushner’s own news magazine, Commercial Observer, amounted to $370m – $74m more than Kushner had paid for it.

The president of Kushner Companies, Laurent Morali, told the Washington Post that the discrepancy in price was a result of the “dramatic turnaround” that they had effected in filling up vacant rental units with high-profile outlets. “We had a vision for the property when we purchased it that no one else had, and are proud to say that we executed on it,” he said.

Deutsche Bank is the biggest lender to Trump, having provided $364m in loans. The German bank has been hit by a series of scandals including Russian money laundering, and was ordered earlier this year to pay more than $600m in fines for failing to prevent the secret and improper transfer of more than $10bn out of Russia.

The Guardian revealed in February that Deutsche Bank had itself conducted an investigation of Trump’s personal account to see whether there were any suspicious links to Russian entities.

Senior Democrats in Congress have raised concerns about possible conflicts of interest relating to the Trump administration and the president’s own financial debts to Deutsche Bank. In March, a group of Democrats on the House financial services committee wrote a joint letter saying that such links “raise serious concerns about whether the president and his inner circle will direct the Department [of Justice] to steer clear of issues that could implicate those who benefited from Deutsche Bank’s trading scheme.”

On Tuesday the Guardian reported that a different Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, had approved plans to push poor and jobless people to donate money to his Christian nonprofit, which since 2000 has steered more than $60m to Sekulow, his family and their businesses.

To read the article in its original format please click here.

 

 

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Congo: Denied Allegations that Kabila’s Government has Slaughtered Villagers, Armed Against the Congolese

Note to Our Readers:

The small portion of the article below is from the Wall Street Journal and was published today. It has been picked up by dozens of news sources worldwide throughout the day. However, to read the entire article requires a subscription to WSJ and on the side of caution, we are not posting the article beyond what is being circulated by other news agencies.

Our interest in this issue beyond the obvious horrors occurring in Congo whether at the hands of Kabila or otherwise, relates back to our stories of the last few days. Kabila apparently has or had close relationships with a number of our mining moguls of recent interest. It is our belief that Kabila’s weapons cache and the strength he amassed to use against his own people was provided by the same mining moguls who have exploited the Congolese people for the diamonds they could mine.

We will continue to cover our recent subjects and the mining of Congo, the potential relationship between Kabila and the subject of our recent posts, and the alleged exchanges of arms for mining contracts and the relationships these different forces have. While we most certainly would not at this juncture conclusive place the mining moguls front and center of Kabila’s alleged atrocities, the providence of any weapons exchanged for mining contracts would certainly raise questions. In our minds, the questions are already there.

To read the article in its entirety click here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/congos-escalating-political-crisis-sends-millions-into-exile-1498037400

 

Thousands die in conflict between government forces and militias loyal to tribal leaders as President Joseph Kabila clings to power

KYANGWALI, Uganda—The day Bungwile Mabuya discovered her husband’s mangled body near her house in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai region, she grabbed her children and ran.
The mother of five, who found refuge in a sprawling lakeside refugee camp here, is one of roughly 1.5 million Congolese fleeing a brutal power struggle pitting President Joseph Kabila against traditional chiefs, who still administer large swaths of the vast central African nation.
Government forces and local militias have killed more than 3,300 people in Ms. Mabuya’s home region since October, according to the Catholic Church, which has had its priests count the bodies since then. On Tuesday, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, accused Mr. Kabila’s government of arming a new militia he said has slaughtered hundreds of villagers—including pregnant women and toddlers—in Kasai. A government spokesman has denied the allegations.

Creative Map-Making and EB-5 Funds…. How Grants to Help the Poor are Making Jared Kushner Richer(er)

http://longisland.news12.com/story/35560404/kushners-used-creative-mapmaking-to-gain-visa-tied-funds

Creative Kushner mapping underscores holes in visa program

NEW YORK (AP) – The Kushner Cos. engaged in a bit of creative mapmaking to qualify one of its buildings in a booming New Jersey waterfront neighborhood across from Manhattan for a federal visa-for-investment program targeting struggling areas.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner placed its 65 Bay Street building in Jersey City in a map stringing together two dozen other areas, some with high unemployment.

The map was included in a 2015 application to the EB-5 visa program that allows overseas investors to obtain U.S. residency in exchange for investments of $500,000 or more in rural areas or those with high unemployment.

The maps are legal, and many other developers engage in the practice. But the practice is one of the reasons the EB-5 visa program has come under criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

James Yolles, a spokesman for the Kushner Cos., declined to comment. The Kushner property is co-owned with developer KABR Group. KABR has not responded to voicemail and email requests for comment.

The special maps were reported earlier by The Washington Post.

The building at 65 Bay Street has licensed the Trump name from the president’s company, and is better known as “Trump Bay Street.” It received millions from wealthy overseas investors through the EB-5 program.

The Kushner Cos. was recently pitching to potential EB-5 investors in China for another Jersey City property. Called One Journal Square, it is a planned 79-story two tower complex in a struggling area of the city. The company is seeking 300 wealthy Chinese to invest a total of $150 million.

Jared Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, created a stir in March after reports she had mentioned her brother, a senior adviser to Trump, in a presentation in China. Marketing materials for the event also cited the Kushner family’s “celebrity” status.

The Kushner Cos. said Meyer’s intention was not to use the connection to the White House to lure investors. Jared Kushner stepped down as CEO of the Kushner Cos. when he joined the White House. His lawyer has said that he has sold his stake in One Journal Square.

To handle the mapmaking for Trump Bay Street, the Kushner Cos. turned to Evans, Carroll & Associates, an economic consultancy in Boca Raton, Florida.

On May 6, 2015, Evans emailed the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development requesting that it review a proposed map stretching over two dozen census tracts. The map formed an odd shape, with some relatively low unemployment areas separated by a few miles to high unemployment ones.

By the end of the month, came New Jersey’s reply: The areas included in the map, called a Targeted Employment Area, had an overall unemployment rate of 9.8 percent – high enough to qualify for the EB-5 program.

The unemployment rate for the single census tract that includes 65 Bay Street was not mentioned in the emails, but has typically been much lower, according to Dave Evans of Evans, Carroll & Associates. Evans said the unemployment rate last year for the census tract that includes 65 Bay Street averaged 1.3 percent.

In order to qualify for EB-5 financing, a building needs to be in a Targeted Employment Area with unemployment 150 percent above the average U.S. rate.

Critics have faulted the EB-5 program for failing to bring investment into poor communities as intended. By gerrymandering together rich geographic areas with poor ones, developers have managed to win approval from economic development authorities for luxury projects in Manhattan, California’s Beverly Hills and Miami’s South Beach.

Earlier this year, Evans, Carroll & Associates emailed New Jersey state officials for Kushner’s One Journal Square project, too.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

 

Gerrymandering Human Lives – How Jared Kushner and “Cos” Stripped the Poor to Build for the Rich

 

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Kushner tapped program meant for job-starved areas to build a luxury skyscraper

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-kushner-eb5-20170601-story.html

Jared Kushner and his real estate partners wanted to take advantage of a federal program in 2015 that would save them millions of dollars as they built an opulent, 50-story residential tower in Jersey City, N.J.’s booming waterfront district, just across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan.

There was just one problem: The program was designed to benefit projects in poor, job-starved areas.

So the project’s consultants got creative, records show.

They worked with state officials in New Jersey to come up with a map that defined the area around 65 Bay Street as a swath of land that stretched nearly four miles and included some of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods. At the same time, they excluded some wealthy neighborhoods only blocks away.

The tactic — critics liken it to the gerrymandering of legislative districts — made it appear that the site was in an area with extraordinarily high unemployment, allowing Kushner Cos. and its partners to get $50 million in low-cost financing through the EB-5 visa program.

The move was legal, and other developers have used similar strategies in recent years, often aided by state officials who welcome the infusion of cash. But it illustrates how Kushner — who ran his family’s real estate company before he became a senior advisor to President Trump — and his partners exploited a loophole in a federal program that prominent members of both parties say has been plagued by fraud and abuse.

On the south side of Jersey City, which has some of the most entrenched poverty in the New York City region, many people interviewed one day last week were surprised that their neighborhood’s troubles were part of the reason that 65 Bay Street got cheap financing.

“That’s very sad,” said Pastor Shyrone Richardson of the World Outreach Christian Church in the struggling Bergen-Lafayette section of Jersey City. “Unfortunately, the people who are benefiting from this are not the people in this area.”

Richardson’s church is in a five-block area where nearly one in five were jobless and there were three fatal shootings in 2015, according to an analysis of crime and census data.

His neighborhood seems a world away from the gleaming office towers and trendy cafes that surround 65 Bay Street. The Jersey City waterfront saw a building boom after 9/11 that transformed the area into one of the hottest real estate markets in the New York metro region, drawing residents from Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Apartments in the Bay Street building, marketed as Trump Bay Street, rent for up to $4,700 a month and offer sweeping views of Lower Manhattan. A nearby commuter train shuttles passengers to the World Trade Center within minutes. The area within a roughly three-block radius around the building had an unemployment rate of just 2.6% in 2015, according to census data.

Under the EB-5 program, a wealthy foreigner can get a fast-track visa granting U.S. residency by investing at least $500,000 in a project in a “targeted employment area.” To qualify, the area must have an unemployment rate at least 1½ times the national average. For developers, the terms of the investment are more favorable than a bank loan.

The Trump administration is considering whether to adopt changes that would prevent EB-5 gerrymandering. Kushner has said he will recuse himself from any discussions on the program.

Kushner Cos., meanwhile, is rushing to raise $150 million in low-cost financing through EB-5 for a separate project in Jersey City: a pair of luxury towers in an area called Journal Square. Kushner’s sister caused a stir this month when she mentioned her brother in a pitch for the project to investors in China.

For that project, too, the company is linking the development to blighted neighborhoods miles to the south while excluding adjoining neighborhoods that have lower unemployment rates, records show.

An executive at U.S. Immigration Fund-NJ, a firm helping Kushner Cos. raise EB-5 money for both projects, defended the practice. Mark Giresi, chief operating officer, called it a “common sense” approach that reflects the broader economic reality of each project’s surroundings. He also said jobs created by the project could be filled by workers from the depressed areas only miles away.

“In large urban markets like Jersey City these types of real estate development projects create much-needed jobs, particularly in the construction industry across areas of the city that cover multiple census tracts,” Giresi said in a statement. Census tracts are government-defined neighborhoods, sometimes as small as a few blocks.

Giresi said the Bay Street project created more than 1,280 construction and other jobs and that 1 Journal Square is projected to create 6,600. Under the program, each $500,000 investment must create at least 10 jobs.

The program’s critics say that cobbling together multiple census tracts to push up the average unemployment rate too often benefits developers and areas that do not need the government help. They point to EB-5 projects in prosperous areas of Manhattan, downtown Washington and in Beverly Hills.

“Many of these affluent-area projects would have been built and jobs created without the infusion of EB-5 capital,” said Gary Friedland, a scholar in residence at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “Consequently, deserving projects can’t be built and the resulting jobs are lost because the projects are deprived of the essential capital to proceed.”

The government caps the number of EB-5 visas it issues each year, and most of the resulting investment goes to high-profile projects in prosperous areas.

A spokeswoman for Kushner Cos. declined to comment, as did Jared Kushner’s spokesman.

Jared Kushner has sold his interest in 1 Journal Square but maintains an ownership stake in 65 Bay Street. The KABR Group, a partner in the luxury tower on Bay Street, also declined to comment.

Kushner’s prominence is drawing renewed attention to the practice, which has been the subject of years of debate in Congress and furious lobbying by the real estate industry. In interviews along Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City last week, there was a common reaction.

“It’s like we’re being used,” said Helen Gathers, a registered nurse who has lived in Jersey City for 38 years.

Down the block, Laville Penn, a 54-year-old who was released from prison in early 2016 after a drug possession conviction, was looking for employment. He had been searching for steady work in construction for more than six months, he said, but had found only temporary day jobs.

Now, hoping to pick up some hours, he stopped by a lot where a friend was doing contract demolition work. Penn said the high-rises built in Jersey City are typically union jobs. “It’s difficult to get into the union if you don’t have certification or experience,” he said.

The EB-5 program was initiated in 1990 to help attract foreign investment to rural and poor, urban areas that have trouble drawing conventional financing or investment.

But developers are free to string together an endless number of contiguous census tracts until they reach the unemployment threshold. In the years since the Great Recession, this has often meant finding the nearest poor area and drawing a line to it.

Documents obtained from New Jersey through a public records request show just how easy that was for Kushner Cos. and KABR Group as they sought to build the Bay Street tower.

On May 6, 2015, Michael Evans, a consultant working on behalf of the project, sent an email to an official in the New Jersey Department of Labor asking that the Bay Street area be deemed an area with high unemployment. Individual states are responsible for reviewing unemployment data and issuing letters certifying that projects qualify for the federal program.

Evans wrote that such an area could be created by combining 26 census tracts in Jersey City that stretch more than two miles to the northwest and three miles to the southwest.

“The client as always is in a great hurry so if you can e-mail me the letter as soon as it is finished it would be appreciated,” Evans wrote. Evans did not respond to a request for comment.

There was a problem, though. The census tracts weren’t contiguous — and didn’t include the the project itself.

Three weeks later, the state, wrote back that the project qualified under a different but similarly attenuated configuration that achieved the same goal. New Jersey’s state website says it will help developers “perform a special tabulation for the area” of their project using census data.

The state-approved map strung together 16 census tracts that went nearly four miles to the southwest, crossing the New Jersey Turnpike and heading south to the Bergen-Lafayette and Greenville areas. Together, those neighborhoods had an average unemployment rate that edged just higher than 9.3%, the qualifying rate at the time.

That probably saved Kushner and his partners millions of dollars.

Developers typically pay only 4% to 8% interest annually on money raised through EB-5, experts said. Conventional financing can carry an interest rates of between 12% and 18%. On the $50 million for Bay Street, that difference amounts to millions of dollars annually over the life of the loan.

On Jan. 5 of this year, a little over two weeks before Trump was to take office, another consultant working on behalf of Kushner Cos. got in touch with New Jersey state officials again. This time, it was about 1 Journal Square. The census tract where it is located had an unemployment rate of 2.9% in 2015, but the consultant suggested adding five neighborhoods to triple that unemployment rate.

The approval came four days later, records show. Kushner’s sister went to China in May seeking the $150 million in EB-5 financing.

The Trump administration will decide in the coming months whether to enact rules, proposed by the Obama administration, limiting the census tracts that can be considered for EB-5 eligibility to only those directly adjacent to the tract containing the development.

The proposal is being considered by Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. Under the proposed rules, neither the 65 Bay Street tower nor the proposed 1 Journal Square project would be in a “targeted employment area.”

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-kushner-eb5-20170601-story.html

The Jared Kushner Chronicles – a Rabbi’s Analysis – Where is Kushner’s Charity?

Preface:

We would like to post a disclaimer. Today is Shavuot and it is conceivable that re-posting this on a Chag Regalim when we are not supposed to be working is not something that the author of the piece would have wanted. Suffice it to say, we are some observant and some not so. We do, however, respect those who are observant and keep the chagim and Shabbat. To that end, we are posting but have had this done by the non-Jews among us.

As another note, our decision to repost Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s piece is in no way indicative of any support for this site or its contents. He may one day write a piece condemning us. Should he ask us to take his article down, we will do so without hesitation. Therefore we request that you, our readers, kindly not make any assumptions or come to any conclusions with regard to the respected Rabbi’s writing or this site. We highly value his commentary here. Whether or not he thinks highly of our site is an opinion only he can voice.

Finally, many of the people named in our previous posts, utterly destroyed by Jared Kushner and his companies can be found by searching their names online. Should you feel like giving Tzedukkah or passing something kind forward, we invite you to send them money to help support their lives. Jared Kushner and his companies have filed hundreds of lawsuits against people whose major misfortune was signing a lease with those companies. There are too many to help and it is solely Kushner and his unconscionable companies who should be helping them. However, since Kushner’s greed seems to make that unlike and given that some of these people are in dire straights. If you have something to give, please do so.

To view his piece in its original form. Please see the Shalom Center: https://theshalomcenter.org/torah-vs-jared-kushner

Chag Sameach.

LM

https://theshalomcenter.org/torah-vs-jared-kushner

The Torah vs. Jared Kushner

Tonight we enter the festival that has come to mean standing again, each year, at Sinai. What does it mean for us to do this seriously, taking Torah deep into our lives, challenging ourselves to live by its deepest teachings?

What would it mean to bring Torah to bear on one rich, powerful, and unjust Jew –- Jared Kushner?

Through the last 2,000 years or so of Jewish history, generations of rabbis have defined themselves – our selves – as heirs of the Prophets, not of the priests. Heirs of the Prophetic commitment to challenge unjust and destructive behavior, to reinterpret Torah for the sake of renewing life as the world around us and within us changed.

When Jews lived in self-contained communities, social if not physical ghettos, that degree of social control was workable for the sake of life-giving, justice-living Torah. But as we – for good reason!  — left such social ghettos, the ability of the rabbis or of the community as a whole to rebuke and end destructive and unethical behavior dwindled. So that lifts up the question: What could the Jewish community of today do about such behavior?

I want to lift up a perfect example of how Torah values are trampled underfoot even while the semblance of piety is claimed.  A story of one man who at this moment holds great power and exemplifies in his own person the “kleptocracy” – rule by thieves – that now afflicts us:

The New York Times Magazine of May 23 featured an article entitled “Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire.”  It describes in stomach-turning detail how Kushner’s real-estate firm, using several shell companies to hide its ownership from public view, has become an oppressor of the poor.

His companies have used false and brutal behavior toward low-income people who are tenants and even former tenants of the Kushner-owned properties, to extract money from them that in fact they don’t owe, ruining their families and their lives.

Since they can’t afford the lawyers who could defend them, they sink deeper and deeper into debt, disaster, and despair.

It seems to me that this behavior by a very high-profile Jew who claims not only the ethnic identity but the religious conviction is exactly what my grandmother called a chillul hashem.

Chillul,” from the same root as “challil,” the hollow flute,  means  hollowing-out — in this case, hollowing out God’s Name.. Since one of the mystics’ metaphors for God is “Tree of Life,” the “hollowing” is an especially powerful imagery.

A person who seems on the outside to be celebrating a living, thriving Sacred Tree of Life has hollowed out all the life-juice within.

The seemingly pious behavior of a seemingly pious Jew actually shatters Torah —  not in the private and self-contained way of a Jew who decides to eat pork; rather, in a way that shatters decency and justice in the public sphere, for many victims.

I urge you to see the article for yourself at —

<https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/magazine/jared-kushners-other-real-estate-empire.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=image&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news>

Kushner’s behavior teaches a vile version of what Judaism and the Jewish people are. When Jews lived in self-contained communities, such an ethical and religious violation could be confronted, rebuked, perhaps punished, even healed by repentant self-correction.

Now it is harder. But perhaps it is still possible. I recall the moment when a small group of rabbis in Northern California called themselves  ”the Redwood Rabbis.” With help from The Shalom Center, they challenged a Jewish corporation-owner whose business was logging magnificent 2,000-year-old redwood trees to make paneling for rich people’s basements. The corporation’s own annual report said that redwood paneling without knots sold better, and it came only from ancient trees.

We gathered on Tu B’Shvat, the RebirthDay of the Trees and of the sacred Tree of Life, to “trespass” on his land to rebuke his killing of these sacred trees of life. We placed a critical ad in his home-town Jewish newspaper just before Yom Kippur to call him to do tshuvah.

We voted inside and demonstrated outside when his stockholders gathered for the annual corporate meeting.

And finally, reluctantly, he sold the groves of ancient redwoods to the California and American governments to be protected.

If rabbis then could see the destruction of these trees as a violation of Torah, what could we say now about acts that cruelly destroy the  lives of hard-working human beings? Could we challenge Mr. Kushner in similar ways? If we did, would we risk encouraging anti-Semitism? Or would we risk it more by keeping silent?

Tonight we face the Festival of Shavuot and read the Book of Ruth. It celebrates two people: a penniless foreigner, an immigrant from a despised and hostile nation, a woman unprotected by a man – and  a wealthy landholder who not only obeyed but affirmed the Torah’s command to make sure the poor and the immigrant had dignity and a decent livelihood. Could any teaching be more clear about the malfeasance of Jared Kushner?

Since the NY Times article on Kushner’s domestic business cruelties, there have emerged claims he may have negotiated with the Putin government of Russia in clandestine ways. And Politico has published an article suggesting his connections with the Lubavitch Chabad organization are intertwined with Chabad’s specially cozy relationship with Putin, in a way to benefit him and his father-in-law both financially and politically.

<http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/the-happy-go-lucky-jewish-group-that-connects-trump-and-putin-215007>

These allegations may or may not be accurate. They merit close study. But the cruelty of his business dealings in Baltimore and elsewhere is clear, already proved.

Most American Jews have made clear that they do not view Mr. Kushner or his kleptocratic and authoritarian bully of a father-in-law as heroes.

But the established “major” organizations have so far not rebuked such behavior by rich Jews, nor have the rabbis who might be thought to be the guardians of Torah.  What more might we do to stand again at Sinai and to clarify what Judaism ought to be, in actual practice?

Blessings that we come to live more fully in a a world that as the ancient Rabbis taught, can stand up straight only if it stands upon three pillars: Emet, Tzedek, v’Shalom: Truth, Justice, and Peace —

Arthur

JK2 Westminster – Jared Kushner’s Real Estate Empire and the Lives He Has Destroyed, Humiliated, Nicked and Dimed.. Have you no Conscience???

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The Beleaguered Tenants of ‘Kushnerville’

Tenants in more than a dozen Baltimore-area rental complexes complain about a property owner who they say leaves their homes in disrepair, humiliates late-paying renters and often sues them when they try to move out. Few of them know that their landlord is the president’s son-in-law.

https://www.propublica.org/article/the-beleaguered-tenants-of-kushnerville?

Victims of Jared Kushner’s Greed and Jeffrey Tapper’s Profitable Lawyering:

  1. Kamiia Warren – single mother – sued for thousands over 3 years and 112 actions

  2. Jasmine Cox – Maggots – Sewage flowing out of kitchen sick – sued for replacing carpet

  3. Joan Beverly  – pancreatic cancer victim sued for thousands

  4. Katherine Silver – University Student – eviction proceedings while away, no heat or hot water and sued for rent and court costs

  5. Joan Beverly’s Daughter Lennettea – defending dying mother who signed her lease for her

  6. Tyrone Beverly – Joan Beverly’s widower still being pursued for payments

  7. Showanda Hough – A victim who fought back – exception – Judge found for Hough

  8. Alishia Jamesson and Fiance Keith Riggs – Paid to fix holes in walls – remain unrepaired, no refrigerator for months

  9. Marquita Parmely – truck driver – mouse infestation

  10. Chris Freimiller – leaks from the toilet and ceiling damage and constant late fees

  11. Jen Jackson – mold problem remains unfixed and admonished for speaking with press

  12. Mike McHargue  and girlfriend Patricia Howell

 

“When Kushner Companies finally responded to my questions about the cases, they essentially affirmed Hertz’s reasoning. As manager for the Baltimore complexes, the company had a “fiduciary obligation” to its ownership partners to collect as much revenue as it could, said Kushner Companies’ chief financial officer, Jennifer McLean, in a written response. She said the company’s legal costs have been “minimal” compared with what it seeks to recover.
McLean declined to comment on several cases, including Kamiia Warren’s. But she said the pursuit of Joan Beverly, the woman dying of cancer, was justified. “This tenant owed the landlord $3,819.16,” she said in the written statement. “As property manager, it’s our job to collect rent payments.”
In general, “Westminster Management only takes legal action against a tenant when absolutely necessary,” McLean said. “If legal action is pursued, however, the company follows guidelines consistent with industry standards.” She added: “While taking a tenant to court is far from an ideal outcome, that option — and clear rules governing it — must exist as a last resort.””
https://www.propublica.org/article/the-beleaguered-tenants-of-kushnerville?

 

Meet Jared Kushner, scumbag slumlord

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/5/29/1665349/-Meet-Jared-Kushner-scumbag-slumlord

Did you know Trump son-in-law and now Adviser For All The Things Jared Kushner is a slumlord? Yeah, Jared Kushner is a slumlord.

The worst troubles may have been those described in a 2013 court case involving Jasmine Cox’s unit at Cove Village. They began with the bedroom ceiling, which started leaking one day. Then maggots started coming out of the living room carpet. Then raw sewage started flowing out of the kitchen sink. “It sounded like someone turned a pool upside down,” Cox told me. “I heard the water hitting the floor and I panicked. I got out of bed and the sink is black and gray, it’s pooling out of the sink and the house smells terrible.”Cox stopped cooking for herself and her son, not wanting food near the sink. A judge allowed her reduced rent for one month. When she moved out soon afterward, Westminster Management sent her a $600 invoice for a new carpet and other repairs. Cox, who is now working as a battery-test engineer and about to buy her first home, was unaware who was behind the company that had put her through such an ordeal. When I told her of Kushner’s involvement, there was a silence as she took it in.

“Get that [expletive] out of here,” she said.

That’s from Alec MacGillis’ investigation into the state of multiple Kushner-owned properties managed under the name JK2 Westminster, and specifically of the company’s unusually aggressive court actions against renters. The Kushner clan bought up an array of distressed and dilapidated properties, older complexes where renters pay about $1,000 a month, and Jared’s quite pleased with their performance, calling it a “very stable asset class.” As CEO of the company up until he got tapped by Donald Trump to fix the entire Middle East, the opiate crisis, and whatever else ya got, one of the ways Jared squeezed more money out of the properties than the previous owners was to shortchange renters on needed fixes—and then sue them when they tried to move out.

In the cases that Tapper has brought to court on behalf of JK2 Westminster and individual Kushner-controlled companies, there is a clear pattern of Kushner Companies’ pursuing tenants over virtually any unpaid rent or broken lease — even in the numerous cases where the facts appear to be on the tenants’ side. Not only does the company file cases against them, it pursues the cases for as long as it takes to collect from the overmatched defendants — often several years.

You can see why Trump’s taken such a liking to the guy: he’s a Trump man through and through. Trump will charge lower-income Americans extravagant prices for not-classes at his not-university, and Kushner will sue them for past rent when they get back home.

And so we’re told the tale of collapsed drywall ceilings, mice in beds, nonworking appliances, and the usual signs you’re living in a complex owned by someone who may or may not later end up in jail. Those go alongside tales of Kushner’s company aggressively pursuing $5,000 judgments against deceased cancer patients, or people who have been made sick from the mold or rodent droppings, or people who got permission to leave their leases early from the local property manager but the head office never got the paperwork so screw you, that’s why.

Very few of the complex residents I met, even ones who had been pursued at length in court by JK2 Westminster, had any idea that their rent and late fees were going to the family company of the president’s son-in-law. “That Jared Kushner?” Danny Jackson, a plumber in his 15th year living at Harbor Point Estates, exclaimed. “Oh, my God. And I thought he was the good one.”

Yeah, he does try to give that impression. So, ya know … oops.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/5/29/1665349/-Meet-Jared-Kushner-scumbag-slumlord

The Kushner Chronicles – Litigious Slumlord Evicting Single Mothers – The Kamiia Warren Eviction – part II

bcpnews-trump-s-son-in-law-is-a-baltimore-slum-001

Tenants allege Trump’s son-in-law is a Baltimore “slumlord,” and that’s not even the worst of it

http://www.citypaper.com/blogs/the-news-hole/bcpnews-trump-s-son-in-law-is-a-baltimore-slumlord-and-that-s-not-even-the-worst-of-it-20170523-story.html

Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, sues his Baltimore tenants for thousands of dollars in bogus debts, on which he also gets judgments allowing him to garnish their wages and drain their bank accounts.

This according to Pro Publica’s Alec MacGillis, who reports in a story for this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine that Kushner quietly bought-up thousands of modest and run-down apartment units in Essex and other Baltimore suburbs, whose tenants complain of poor maintenance, harsh rent collection techniques, and relentless pursuit of old and sometimes dubious debts generated after tenants moved out.

MacGillis leads off with Kamiia Warren, who moved out of Cove Village in Essex years ago to get away from a crazy neighbor. She had permission to do so from the apartment’s managers, yet Kushner’s company sued her years later for breaking the lease, winning more than $3,000 plus fees and expenses: almost $5,000 total by 2014.

At one point in the story, a private investigator looking into Westminster Management, Kusher’s property management company says, “they’re nothing but slumlords.” MacGillis notes the P.I. is a Trump supporter and had no idea of the connection between Trump’s son-in-law and Westminster.

MacGillis finds hundreds of cases, and the story profiles several other tenants with similar experiences. A spokesperson for Kushner’s company tells MacGillis that it owes a fiduciary duty to its investors to try to collect all outstanding debts. The story does not explain how or why it’s legal for the landlord to effectively generate the debts out of thin air, or why the District Court judges routinely uphold them. He tries to talk to Kushner’s collection lawyer, Jeffrey Tapper.

“In the cases that Tapper has brought to court on behalf of JK2 Westminster and individual Kushner-controlled companies, there is a clear pattern of Kushner Companies’ pursuing tenants over virtually any unpaid rent or broken lease—even in the numerous cases where the facts appear to be on the tenants’ side,” MacGillis writes.

Tapper blows him off.

Aside from the presidential connection, the story reads much like Doug Donovan and Jean Marbella’s Baltimore Sun series a few weeks ago on Baltimore City’s rent court, where the deck is said to be stacked pretty high against tenants.


 http://www.citypaper.com/blogs/the-news-hole/bcpnews-trump-s-son-in-law-is-a-baltimore-slumlord-and-that-s-not-even-the-worst-of-it-20170523-story.html

 

 

SEE ALSO:

Jared Kushner’s Beleaguered Tenants

The idea of working with little pay and no fanfare to make people’s struggles less onerous is a sucker’s game for Mr. Trump and his cohort. When members of Team Trump play, they are never the sucker. They exploit foreclosures, promote legislation to benefit themselves, stiff workers and contractors and create multimillion-dollar scams.

For the past few years, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, who is now in charge of vital parts of the president’s agenda, has been a landlord of often decrepit low-income housing. His subordinates aggressively sue tenants for the smallest infractions despite ignoring maintenance needs, and they pursue judgments even when the tenant seems to have been in the right. While landlord-tenant disputes are hardly new, tenants in Kushner complexes have complained that the company used legal action to hound them on thin or specious grounds.

Since 2011, subsidiaries of Kushner Companies, the family real estate business Mr. Kushner ran until January, bought 20,000 apartments in 34 complexes in Maryland, Ohio and New Jersey. An investigation for The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica, by Alec MacGillis, found that one major Kushner subsidiary, JK2 Westminster, had 548 cases on file against Maryland tenants. Hundreds of other cases have been filed there by individual Kushner apartment complexes.

Community organizers could have helped Kushner tenants like Kamiia Warren of suburban Baltimore, who was sued for moving out of her apartment without giving two months’ notice despite having done so. Mr. Kushner’s company won an almost $5,000 judgment anyway, and garnished her wages as a home health worker, and her bank account.

The Times investigation quotes the Kushner Companies’ chief financial officer, Jennifer McLean, as saying that the company has a “fiduciary obligation” to collect as much revenue as possible. Mr. MacGillis adds: “One way to make sure that tenants are paying their rent and to keep them from breaking leases early … is to instill a sense of fear about violating a lease.”