Watchdog calls for investigation into Jared Kushner’s shadow coronavirus task force apparent ‘conflicts of interest’
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is seeking support for his long-delayed but controversial Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. (AFP/File / SAUL LOEB)

Legal Authority 'Unclear'

A prominent federal government watchdog organization is calling for an investigation into Jared Kushner's shadow coronavirus task force, charging the legal authority for its very existence is "unclear," and alleging its members "appear to have violated federal conflicts of interest and transparency laws."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, better known as CREW, has sent a 9-page letter to the Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics requesting the investigation.

CREW says many members of Kushner's task force are "drawn from private industries with ties to the administration," and "are private sector individuals with massive financial interests," who "appear to be subject to no oversight, leaving the public in the dark about whether they are acting in our best interests or their own."

The organization is expressing concern over activities Kushner's group is engaged in, including, "Interacting with vendors on behalf of FEMA to buy medical supplies," "Expanding the government’s use of individual patient data to create a national coronavirus surveillance system," "Issuing orders to the official coronavirus task force," "Issuing orders to health agencies," and "Directing agencies to take specific actions, such as the delivery of medical equipment to states they designate."

CREW also notes the "full composition of the task force ... has not been made publicly available," but among its members are "his former roommate."

Federal officials have "called this team a 'shadow task force' that issues requests 'they interpret as orders they must balance with regular response efforts.'"

Read CREW's full letter here.