Feinstein: End EB-5 visa program to avoid Kushner conflict

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Nicole Kushner Meyer, the sister of the key White House adviser, raised her brother's connections to the Trump administration while seeking to raise money from Chinese investors through a government visa program for foreigners who invest in United States projects.

On Monday, the Kushner family apologized for mentioning Jared Kushner, saying there was no intent to push investment by highlighting family ties to Washington. That was not Ms. Meyer's intention.

Backlash for a sales pitch from Jared Kushner's family firm to Chinese investors came quickly, with one former White House ethics advisor calling the weekend's presentation "corruption, pure and simple".

The events were hosted in Beijing and Shanghai on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. There are concerns about potential conflicts of interests, but also about a visa program for investors. What did they hear before they were promptly asked to leave?

"Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States", reads the tag line on a brochure for an investment event.

Kushner's sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, told dozens of potential investors in Beijing that they should invest in a skyscrapers now being built in New Jersey, the Guardian reported. In return, they'd get a possible US visa under a program recently renewed by President Trump.

A sign is seen outside an event where Nicole Kushner Meyer, the sister of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, was promoting a real estate development in Shanghai on Sunday.

"The proposed One Journal Square project will provide $180 million in tax revenue for Jersey City over the next 30 years, more than 4,000 union construction jobs, and direct funding for a memorial plaza and local arts initiatives, among other benefits", a company spokesman told HousingWire.

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The EB-5 program also gives wealthy Chinese the opportunity to move a big chunk of their savings overseas at a time of uncertainty about the future of the world's second-largest economy. The next day, Nicole Meyer stood in a ballroom in Beijing and encouraged Chinese investors to put money into a troubled New Jersey luxury apartment complex in exchange for the chance to get one of those coveted visas.

Yesterday, Meyer was introduced in Chinese to investors as a representative of "a famed celebrity investment family".

According to the Times, during the Beijing meeting, Meyer talked about how family values had shaped Kushner Companies and spoke about her grandparents, who survived the Holocaust.

Michael Short, a White House spokesman, said in an email in mid-April that the EB-5 program needs "substantial fix".

"Given that President (Donald) Trump and Jared Kushner refuse to divest from their vast financial holdings, the only way to eliminate this conflict is for Congress to allow the program to expire in September", said Feinstein, who has sponsored legislation to end the program.

The event was meant to draw investors for 1 Journal Square, a $976.4 million residential and commercial project underway in New Jersey.

Qiaowai's Chinese-language marketing material describes the project as "supported by the government, created by a star developer", and says the project is its 87th EB-5 program. Some Chinese refer to the residency authorization as a "golden visa".

Watchdogs and ethics experts yesterday criticised the Beijing event as an attempt to cash in on Kushner's newfound proximity to power, it said.