Kamala Harris Breaking Her Campaign Ethics and Hiding Wealth in Tax-Advantaged Family Trust?

Harris has been a trustee of KDH/DCE family trust since 2017 where she has been keeping her wealth but the trust's assets "are not reportable," according to the tax filing.

  • Updated

Vice President Kamala Harris keeps assets hidden in a tax-advantaged family trust, a move that violates her own finance ethics promise, according to her latest financial disclosure made earlier this week. Increasing transparency and closing loopholes were among the ethics pledges President Joe Biden and Harris had made during their campaign, as they sought to draw a contrast with former President Donald Trump and his murky finances.

However, that doesn't seem to be happening at least in Harris' case and that too in the very first year of her as the Vice President. According to Harris' financial disclosure form released on Monday, she is a trustee of the KDH/DCE family trust.

Harris Hides Assets

 Kamala Harris
Washington, Aug. 20, 2020 (Xinhua) -- File photo taken on June 27, 2019 shows Senator Kamala Harris of California being interviewed after the second night of the first Democratic primary debate in Miami, Florida, the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie/IANS) Xinhua/Liu Jie/IANS

According to Harris' financial disclosure, she has been a trustee of KDH/DCE family trust since 2017. The trust's assets "are not reportable," according to the filing, effectively obscuring some of the vice president's holdings from public view.

Interestingly, this is a practice that Harris had vowed to end during her Vice Presidential campaign in a bid to draw contrast with Trump's murky finance. However, Harris now seems to be violating her own ethics.

Biden and Harris pledged to work with Congress to "eliminate the trust loophole in existing financial disclosure law," and Biden said he would "require that any member of his Administration who is a beneficiary of a discretionary trust disclose all of its holdings."

The pledge was spelled out in the Biden Plan to Guarantee Government works for the People. It was made in a bid to restore faith in American government by drawing a line under Trump and what it described as "the most corrupt administration in modern history."

Harris an Exception?

Douglous Emhoff and Kamala Harris
Doug Emhoff and Vice President Kamala Harris Twitter/Doug Emhoff

The pledge was made with the aim of eliminating conflicts of interest and closing a loophole that allows candidates and public officials to transfer assets into trusts controlled by family members or friends, and then disclose just the existence of the trust. "This loophole has allowed many senior officials — including President Trump — to avoid disclosing significant financial interests," said the pledge.

A family trust, or a living trust, provides a lot of tax benefits to married couples. It allows them to maximize their federal estate tax exemption and are "ideal for people that own real estate in more than one state and an excellent method of asset protection," according to a California law firm.

It is still not clear why Harris does not have to adhere to the pledge and report the assets held in the trust, while others have to. The vice president's office is yet to respond to this. Following the revelations, Harris was slammed by many Republicans.

A senior Republican said it shows Democrats have one rule for themselves and another for the public.

Washington, D.C. property records show that Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff earned almost $1.9 million in 2020. The couple used the KDH/DCE trust to purchase a luxury condo near D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood in 2017. The condo is currently listed for sale on Zillow with an asking price of nearly $2 million. Besides, they also transferred their Brentwood, California home into the trust when they married in 2014. Emhoff bought it for $2.7 million two years earlier.