Nicole Meyer, the sister of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and the rest of the family had to apologize on May 8 after she used Kushner’s name during an event in Beijing to lure Chinese investment in a real estate project in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Meyer told investors that they could invest through the EB-5 visa program, which offers green cards to foreign entrepreneurs if they invest at least $500,000 in a U.S. business and create at least 10 American jobs.
Meyer mentioning Kushner’s name raised conflict-of-interest concerns. Kushner Companies later issued a statement apologizing for Meyer’s pitch.
“In the course of discussing this project and the firm’s history with potential investors, Ms Meyer wanted to make clear that her brother had stepped away from the company in January and has nothing to do with this project,” the company said. “Kushner Companies apologizes if that mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors. That was not Ms Meyer’s intention.”
Here’s what you need to know about Meyer.
1. Meyer Told Over 100 Chinese Investors That the Project ‘Means a Lot to Me & My Entire Family’
The New York Times first reported on Meyer’s meeting with over 100 Chinese investors at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Beijing on May 6. During the meeting, she tried to get $150 million in financing for One Journal Square, a housing development that will have over 50 floors. Construction is scheduled to start in 2018 and it will cost an estimated $976.4 million to build. Kushner Companies is hoping to fund 15% of that through the visa program.
Meyer told the investors that they could take advantage of the EB-5 visa program. They would be eligible for a green card and eventually be granted citizenship if they invest at least $500,000 in a project and create at least 10 U.S. jobs. Although controversial, the program has been in place since 1990.
According to the Times, Meyer told investors that One Journal Square “means a lot to me and my entire family.” She also mentioned her brother’s past work as the CEO of Kushner Companies. Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, left the company in January after President Trump chose him to be a senior adviser.
The investors were also told that One Journal Square was the new project from the “star Kushner real estate family.” The event was organized by Qiaowai, a Chinese immigration agency.
Kushner’s attorney, Blake Roberts, told CNN Money that Kushner is not involved in Kushner Companies and he divested his One Journal Square interests when he sold them to a family trust. Roberts also said that Kusher will “recuse himself from particular matters concerning the EB-5 visa program.”
2. She Mentioned How Her Grandparents Survived the Holocaust During the Meeting
Meyer also mentioned that her grandparents survived the Holocaust, according to the New York Times. The paper reports that she talked about her family’s values and how they saw their father’s dedicated work.
(Charles Kushner founded the company in 1985 and spent time in prison for false tax returns and witness tampering. Prosecutors said he used a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law so he could stop his sister from cooperating with authorities.)
“As children we would spend our Sundays visiting properties with my father and staying up late through the night, by his side, when closing an acquisition,” Meyer said in Beijing, accoridng to the Times. “Our father taught us about respect for our partners, hard work, dedication and most importantly, perseverance.”
The Times also reported that the event was publicly advertised, but reporters from the Times and Washington Post were ushered out and told it was a “private event.” When they tried to question Meyer afterwards, a man with Meyer told them, “Please leave us alone!”
3. Her Husband Joseph Is The Chairman & Publisher of the New York Observer
Meyer is married to Joseph Meyer. In January 2013, Meyer was named the new CEO of Observer Media Group, which publishes the New York Observer online and had been owned by Kushner since 2006. After Trump became president, Kushner divested his interest in the company into a family trust.
The 37-year-old Joseph Meyer is now the Chairman and Publisher at Observer Media. He’s the only member of the team without a photo on the Observer Media site. As New York Magazine notes, Joseph Meyer is also a veteran of hedge funds. He’s worked at both Elliott Management and MSD Capital.
After Trump was elected, the Observer went completely digital. Meyer also told The Hollywood Reporter that the Observer is definitely not for sale.
“The [Observer] is not for sale,” he told THR. “However, we are constantly approached by strategic partners who are interested in it… and we’re always open-minded as to how to think about the Observer’s long-term success.”
4. She Previously Worked for Ralph Lauren Before Joining Kushner Companies
Surprisingly, Meyer didn’t join Kushner Companies right out of college. According to her LinkedIn page, she first worked for Ralph Lauren as Senior Director of Creative Services in Global Fashion from May 2005 until May 2015. In the same month she left Ralph Lauren, she joined her family’s company.
Meyer has a degree in Urban Design and Architecture and Studio Art from New York University. In 2006, she earned a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
5. Records Show Meyer Has Donated to Both Democratic and Republican Campaigns
According to records on Open Secrets.org, Meyer has made political campaign donations to both Democrats and Republicans.
She made multiple donations to New Jersey Senator Corey Booker’s campaign in 2013 and 2014. The most she donated to Booker at one time was $5,200 in March 2013 and again in June 2013.
Meyer made several donations to the Trump campaign in 2015, including a $2,700 donation in October 2015. She also donated $2,600 to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham in February 2015 to support the Israeli American Council. In 2014, she donated $2,600 to Bruce Blakeman’s ill-fated Congressional campaign.