WASHINGTON — Two congressional Democrats are demanding more information about President Trump’s potential conflicts of interest stemming from his part ownership of the nation’s largest federally subsidized housing complex, which they say could benefit financially from decisions made by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Trump stands to make millions from his 4 percent stake in Starrett City, a sprawling affordable housing complex in Brooklyn, according to a 10-page letter written by Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, and Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, whose district includes the complex. The lawmakers sent the letter on Friday to the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and Allen H. Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, who oversees a trust that holds the president’s business assets. The letter was also sent to Ben Carson, the secretary of the housing department, and Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the oversight committee.
“Many real estate companies receive government subsidies to support affordable housing, but unique conflicts exist with regard to Starrett City because the president is on both sides of the negotiations,” the letter said. “He oversees the government entity providing taxpayer funds and he pockets some of that money himself.”
Mr. Cummings and Mr. Jeffries said Mr. Trump’s financial disclosures show that the president’s stake in Starrett City is valued at $5 million to $25 million, while the complex as a whole is probably valued at more than $625 million. The letter, citing a Washington Post report, said Starrett City’s owners have received more than $490 million in rent subsidies since May 2013.
The congressmen also pointed out that about a decade ago, the owners of Starrett City had reached an agreement to sell the complex for $1.3 billion and that Mr. Trump had praised the deal, which would have made him about $52 million. However, that deal and others to sell the complex were blocked by the housing department because federal officials were concerned that the buyers might not be able to maintain the apartments as affordable.