Maryland’s Attorney General, Brian Frosh, has opened an investigation into Jared Kushner’s shady and allegedly predatory real estate business, Kushner Companies. Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, stepped down as CEO when he joined the administration in January.
While Frosh’s office declined to confirm the investigation, a representative from Kushner Companies acknowledged its existence in a statement provided to CNN, which first reported Frosh’s probe. “We have been working with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office to provide information in response to its request,” the statement read. “We are in compliance with all state and local laws.”
Tenants who live in the Baltimore townhouses owned by JK2 Westminster LLC, a Kushner Companies subsidiary, have long complained about their landlord’s astoundingly insufficient maintenance and poor living conditions. In August, a New York Times and ProPublica investigation revealed prevalent mold, mice, and appliances that often didn’t work. This anecdote typifies what it’s like to live in one of Kushner’s Baltimore properties:
There was also black mold spreading around the bathtub, a large brown stain and crack on the wall adjacent to the stove and a gap in the bathroom skylight that allowed in rain and snow. Jamesson told me that the refrigerator hadn’t worked for more than a month before being replaced; her family had lived on canned food and boxed milk.
Equally as disturbing is Kushner Companies’ record of abusive debt collection. For years the firm has sought to jail people who owe rent money, The Baltimore Sun reported. Since 2013, when Kushner’s company bought the buildings, JK2 Westminster has sought the arrest of 105 former tenants who failed to appear in court over unpaid debt — 20 former tenants were detained, according to arrest records.
As The Sun noted, Frosh has vocally criticized that practice of debt collection, called body attachments within the industry, and advocated for its regulation. Details of the living conditions inside Kushner properties as well as the firm’s aggressive debt collection tactics prompted Democratic lawmakers to send Kushner Company a letter questioning whether it had violated housing codes — but the request for further information was repeatedly denied.