The anti-Airbnb movement has a new poster boy: Paul Manafort

NY lawmakers point to rental income at 29 Howard St. as reason reform is needed

Paul Manafort and 29 Howard Street (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)
Paul Manafort and 29 Howard Street (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)

State and city lawmakers who have Airbnb in their cross hairs are taking an interest in the indictment of former President Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

More than two dozen elected officials sent a letter to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky this week saying the tech company “must no longer be permitted to shield illegal operators by claiming it is protecting the privacy of hosts when those hosts look like Paul Manafort and his Russian oligarch clients.”

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Signing state senators on the letter targeting Airbnb included Democrats Liz Krueger and Helen Rosenthal. The city’s comptroller, Scott Stringer, also gave the letter his approval. In addition to data on who uses the platform, the lawmakers want the company to remove illegal listings from its website, such as stays totaling fewer than 30 days at properties where the primary resident is absent.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted Manafort for tax fraud and other charges last month. Mueller’s complaint also included a reference to Manafort profiting from Airbnb rental revenues at a lower Manhattan condo alleged to be a part of a complex money laundering scheme. Manafort is alleged to have never reported the cash used to buy the home at 29 Howard Street to the Internal Revenue Service, though he later cited income from the property on a future tax bill, a write-down that ultimately benefited him, according to the indictment.

In response to the letter, Airbnb told the New York Daily News that it already provides the public information, including a special data set for government regulators. [NYDN]Will Parker