The debate over White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s possible conflicts of interest picked up steam on Sunday, after the family business of President Trump’s son-in-law spent the weekend promoting an investment-for-visas scheme in Beijing and Shanghai. Nicole Kushner Meyer, Kushner’s sister, urged Chinese investors to put $500,000 into a New Jersey real-estate project in return for investor visas and residency in the U.S. Meyer cited the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program to make her pitch, though critics have accused organizers of the event of playing up their ties to the White House. “It’s incredibly stupid and highly inappropriate. They clearly imply that the Kushners are going to make sure you get your visa,” Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s administration, told The Washington Post. Kushner Companies was quick to apologize for how the event was framed. In a statement Sunday, a spokesperson said the company “apologizes if that mention of [Meyer’s] brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors.” Jared Kushner “has nothing to do with this project,” spokesperson Risa Heller said.
The investment would go toward a luxury apartment complex, One Journal Square, that is being developed by KABR Group and Kushner Companies. Jared Kushner has divested his interest in the project, though he was reportedly mentioned frequently in promotional materials for the event. Organizers of the event in Shanghai on Sunday reportedly barred journalists from entering the publicly advertised event, according to Reuters and The New York Times. A researcher working for The Washington Post, Congcong Zhang, said on Twitter that she was threatened for covering the event. “I was threatened, harassed and forced to delete recordings and photos of The Kushner family recruiting Chinese investors in US Green cards,” Zhang wrote, adding that “people from the Chinese company” working with the Kushners had threatened her.