Washington: President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are renting a house from a foreign billionaire who is fighting the US government over a proposed mine in Minnesota.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are renting a $5.5 million house in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood from Andronico Luksic.
One of the Chilean billionaire’s companies is suing the federal government over lost mineral right leases for a proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota. Luksic’s company, Twin Metals Minnesota, filed suit in September to force renewal of its leases. The lawsuit remains pending.
Luksic bought the Kalorama property after the November presidential election.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration announced in December it would not renew mineral rights critical to the proposed $2.8 billion Twin Metals project near Ely, near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, about 402 km (250 miles) north of Minneapolis.
Ivanka Trump and Kushner, the president’s senior advisor, moved into the property around the time of President Trump’s inauguration in January. Luksic still lacked the business license necessary under Washington law to collect rent on the property as of earlier this week.
A law firm representing Luksic said the necessary forms will be submitted shortly. The White House said the couple is paying fair market value for the home and hasn’t met Luksic nor discussed the mine with him.
Rodrigo TerrÃ©, a relative of Luksic, said there is no connection between the house rental and fight over mineral rights. Rob Walker, an ethics lawyer at the law firm Wiley Rein, said the arrangement may pose an appearance problem, because “deservedly or not, critics may still question the propriety of entering into any significant transaction with an individual with these apparent interests before the administration.”
President Trump could reverse the Obama administration decision to protect this part of the National Wilderness Preservation System from mining. His interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, has advocated for increased mining on federal lands.