The affiliate of Kushner Cos. “victimized consumers, many of whom are financially vulnerable,” the lawsuit alleges, placing them in units “infested by rodents and vermin, plagued with water leaks . . . and, at times, lacking in basic utilities.”
According to Frosh (D), the scope of violations and the number of tenants affected in this case are the most severe his office has ever seen. The filing of formal charges comes a month after Westminster rejected Frosh’s offer of a settlement.
The lawsuit does not list how much the attorney general is seeking in damages, but Frosh said in an interview Wednesday that it could be millions.
Kushner stepped down as chief executive of Kushner Cos. in 2017 when he became a senior White House adviser. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a statement Wednesday, Kushner Cos. chief executive Laurent Morali said the company was prepared to defend itself against what it called “bogus allegations.”
“We refuse to be extorted by an ambitious Attorney General who clearly cares more about scoring political points than fighting real crime and improving the lives of the people of Maryland,” Morali said.
Frosh has filed or joined numerous lawsuits against the Trump administration, on issues ranging from immigration to the environment to the emoluments clause.
But he said it is “unfounded and absurd” to suggest that the suit was politically motivated.
“Just read the complaint,” Frosh said, noting that Westminster and other parties listed in the lawsuit had chalked up hundreds of thousands of violations of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act. “This does not have to do with politics. It has to do with their treatment of their tenants.”
The Kushner family has been the subject of fierce scrutiny and criticism in parts of Maryland, where it manages a wide portfolio of apartment complexes. In 2017, Baltimore County officials revealed that Kushner Cos. properties were cited for more than 200 code violations in a calendar year.
This July, when President Trump characterized Rep. Elijah E. Cummings’s Baltimore-based congressional district as a “rodent infested mess,” Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr. called the insults “ironic,” pointing to the allegations of neglect and disrepair at Kushner’s properties.
“Any practices that undermine our working families and their efforts to get ahead is unacceptable,” Olszewski (D) said Wednesday. “I applaud Attorney General Frosh for taking this significant legal action.”