After his father-in-law left the White House, Jared Kushner got a $2 billion golden parachute—from the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Kushner predictably started a private equity firm despite his lack of experience in private equity, and went to the main Saudi sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), asking for an “investment.”
The professionals in charge of screening possible investments for the PIF raised a series of objections only to be overruled days later by the fund’s board, which is led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom Kushner became close during his time as a senior White House adviser.
The objections to investing in Kushner’s private equity firm, Affinity Partners, included “’the inexperience of the Affinity Fund management’; the possibility that the kingdom would be responsible for ‘the bulk of the investment and risk’; due diligence on the fledgling firm’s operations that found them ‘unsatisfactory in all aspects’; a proposed asset management fee that ‘seems excessive’; and ‘public relations risks’ from Mr. Kushner’s prior role as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, former President Donald J. Trump, according to minutes of the panel’s meeting last June 30,” The New York Times reports.
The reason given internally was that Kushner was worth the risk despite his inexperience and potential public relations problems, in order to “capitalize on the capabilities of Affinity’s founders’ deep understanding of different government policies and geopolitical systems.” That’s a lot of words when you could just say “buying access and influence.”
As a measure of how much the eventual bin Salman-led decision to hand over $2 billion to Kushner was driven by relationships, Steven Mnuchin, the former Trump treasury secretary, also started a private equity firm and went to Saudi Arabia asking for money. He got $1 billion despite having relevant experience in the field. Kushner is also getting a higher asset management fee from the PIF than Mnuchin is.
Few other investors have bought what Kushner was selling. According to public filings, the main fund at Affinity Partners had just $2.5 billion invested. It sounds like he’s basically owned by Saudi Arabia at this point. But then, he did a lot to earn this kind of loyalty when he was in a position to do so.
In a side note on the brokenness of the traditional media, check out this framing: “Ethics experts say that such a deal creates the appearance of potential payback for Mr. Kushner’s actions in the White House — or of a bid for future favor if Mr. Trump seeks and wins another presidential term in 2024.”
Guys. You really don’t need ethics experts to tell you that. Everyone can see it. Nor do you need to include the waffling “the appearance of.” It’s blatantly corrupt, even if we don’t know if it’s more of a thank you for Jared’s help providing cover on the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, or more of a down payment on future services should Trump make it back to the White House. And it’s business as usual for all of Team Trump.
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.