Less than a month after leaving the White House, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s annual public financial disclosure reports show the couple receiving between $23,791,645 (£16.8m) and $120,676,949 (£87.8m) in combined income outside of their respective former positions as assistant to the president and White House senior adviser.
The disclosures, published every year, cover everything Trump and Kushner were paid for in 2020 and through their last day as government employees on January 20, 2021. Like other federal disclosure reports, income and asset values are shown in ranges. And the ranges can be large. Multiple line items show a range of “$100,001 - $1,000,000.” Some only require a minimum figure which contributes to why their income range is so large and difficult to discern exactly.
Like many of us, they, too, have been affected by the virus that has left millions unemployed (perhaps not quite like all of us). In their 2019 financial disclosures, they reported a combined income between $36,151,214 (£26.3m) and $157,020,085 (£114m)— a notable decline when you look at their income range now. (Perhaps they might have even noticed it.)
So where does this vague – but incredibly high – range of income come from? Well, Trump reported a number of fixed guaranteed payments. And this isn't new, either. She’s had this arrangement with a few entities to prevent a complicated situation in which she stood to have a stake in the companies’ performance while simultaneously working in the White House (perhaps a major conflict of interest). So instead, she received sums of $100,000 from T International Realty LLC, $600,000 (£438,000) from TTTT Venture LLC, and $800,000 (£583,000) from TTT Consulting LLC. According to ProPublica, these are all real estate companies where Trump performed “consulting, licensing, and management services for real estate projects.” All of these companies are linked to the Trump Organization, reports Newsweek.
Trump also still holds an interest in, and receives income from, the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC. In previous years, she has received nearly $4 million (£2.9m) from this financial holding; however, in 2020, she reported only receiving $1,463,449 (£1m). Her reported stakes went from somewhere between $5 million (3m) and $25 million (£18m) to between $100,001 and $250,000. The sudden decrease is not explained in her financial disclosure report and there’s no record of selling a significant portion of her stake in the property.
Unlike previous years, where Trump received income from businesses she reportedly divested her interests in before entering government work, she did not receive any payments this year. At the time, she reported receiving between $100,000 (£70,000) to $1,000,000 (£650,000) in rent or royalties from the Ivanka M. Trump Business Trust, which is made up of her various branded fashion companies and trademarks. It is a drop in the bucket as far as her total earnings are concerned, but a contributing factor nonetheless.
But speaking of payouts from rent and royalties, Kushner, too, received considerable passive income from similar arrangements thanks to his real estate investments. Although he sold off some assets when he entered government service, he retained the vast majority of properties in his portfolio that amount to millions in rent and royalty payments each year.
According to his financial disclosure report, he held onto a controversial interest in the real estate technology firm, Cadre, despite it being flagged as a possible conflict of interest from the moment he started working at the White House. In February 2020, he finally committed to selling his $25 to $50 million stake over concerns about the company’s international business dealings. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found that at Kushner’s request, the Office of Government Ethics withdrew its certificate asking him to divest in Cadre in June 2020.
It also appears that Kushner is doing a little restructuring thanks to a newly-formed offshore holding company in the British Virgin Islands. The new entity was formed in 2020 and now holds several of his financial interests including the Puck Building LP, which is currently valued at more than $25 million (£18m).
All of this is coming to light at the height of stark criticism for both Trump and Kushner and their attempts to level with the American people during a severe economic downfall. In July, Trump promoted a tone deaf ad campaign encouraging out of work Americans and those in unsatisfying jobs to “#TrySomethingNew.” It was immediately slated on social media for its poor timing and the fact that it was coming from the White House during a pandemic the Trump administration was exacerbating through poor crisis management.
Hearing about the challenges of finding a job from the daughter of a billionaire, herself a multimillionaire, could not be more off base. For many, it wasn’t about finding something new, it was finding something at all. It wasn’t about making fewer tens of millions a year while still making tens of millions a year.
Even as Trump and Kushner report less, they do not report loss. Millions of people in the US have experienced financial loss and will continue to experience instability well after the pandemic is over as a result. It can be easy to be caught up in the needs of right now, but financial disclosure reports like this remind us that we need to examine how legislation supports income inequality in the long term.