The sister of White House aide Jared Kushner leveraged her brother's name in a sales pitch to Chinese investors, on behalf of the family's real estate venture.
Nicole Meyer cited the high-level Presidential staffer and his recent involvement with Kushner Companies in Beijing, on Saturday, while attempting to raise capital to build luxury apartments in Jersey City, NJ.
Meyer mentioned her brother and touted the investment opportunity as important to "me and my entirely family," according to both The New York Times and The Washington Post. A spokesperson for the company and Meyer subsequently apologized and denied that "mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors."
Stated intentions aside, reporters from the Times and the Post were quickly expelled from the Beijing presentation, after they were noticed by event organizers. Journalists were also barred from attending a similar pitch to investors by Meyer on Sunday in Shanghai, according to Reuters.
Jared Kushner -- the husband of President Trump's daughter Ivanka, who herself also acts as a White House adviser -- claims to have divested himself from Kushner Companies. The aide sold his stake in the venture to a family trust before Trump's inauguration.
One of Kushner's lawyers told Reuters that "he, his wife, and his children are not beneficiaries of" the trust, and that the vehicle was "a mechanism suggested by the Office of Government Ethics."
High-ranking members of the Trump administration, including the President himself, have been dogged by accusations of conducting official business abroad for profit, in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
Allegations of self-dealing have particularly sprung up in relation to China, which was heavily criticized by President Trump during and after last year's campaign.
After being elected, for example, Trump lashed out at the United States' longstanding "One China" policy, referring to official non-recognition of Taiwan. Shortly thereafter, around the same time that Trump dropped his criticism of "One China," some Trump trademarks were suddenly approved by Chinese officials, after years of rejection.
The timing of Meyer's pitch, too, aroused suspicion. As the Post noted, she encouraged investors to apply for US residency through the EB-5 visa program -- a controversial initiative that was renewed the day before in federal spending legislation signed into law by President Trump.
The EB-5 program allows rich investors to be fast-tracked for US residency, with a pathway to permanent residency. Though Trump repeatedly bashed American immigration policies during last year's campaign, he did not criticize EB-5 visas.