In a bid to restart the economy, President Trump this week tapped prominent business leaders from across industries to help advise him, including some of the highest-profile real estate executives in the country.
The roster of names chosen to help steer the economy in a post-coronavirus world include longtime supporters of Trump’s presidential campaign, along with others who have contributed to Democratic committees and candidates.
“These bipartisan groups of American leaders will work together with the White House to chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity,” the White House said in a statement Tuesday. The president announced the dozens of names in a press conference that day. “The health and wealth of America is the primary goal, and these groups will produce a more independent, self-sufficient, and resilient nation.”
Called the “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups,” it includes Blackstone Group’s Jonathan Gray, David Simon of mall giant Simon Property Group, Steven Roth of Vornado Realty Trust, Stephen Ross of Related Companies, Starwood Capital’s Barry Sternlicht, Don Bren of Irvine Company, Steve Witkoff of the Witkoff Group, Rick Caruso of Los Angeles retail development firm Caruso, Geoff Palmer of development firm GH Palmer and Robert Faith of Greystar.
The list of 200 names included executives from other industries like healthcare, sports, telecommunications, energy and defense.
Palmer is one of Trump’s largest and most loyal donors. Last year, GH Palmer was the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed for allegedly keeping thousands of security deposits from tenants. In September, he held a fundraiser for the president at his Beverly Hills home.
Several of the real estate executives Trump tapped have been generous supporters of his campaign — including Stephen Ross, who generated controversy last year when he hosted his own fundraiser for the president.
Witkoff and Roth — who attended fundraisers for Trump the same weekend Ross held his — have both made contributions to the Republican National Committee, filings from the Federal Election Commission show.
But not all of the executives chosen for the business revival group have been supporters of the president. Many have donated to his opponents.
Blackstone Group president and COO Jonathan Gray donated $35,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In 2016, The Real Deal reported that Gray, the former head of real estate at Blackstone, was in discussions with Trump to be Treasury Secretary. He later declined the role, citing his continued work at Blackstone.
Caruso, Simon and Sternlicht donated to former Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, according to campaign finance records.