Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner speaks in the press briefing room with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force April 2, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
A complaint was filed to the House Oversight Committee by a volunteer on Jared Kushner’s coronavirus response team expressing concerns about the group’s lack of success in obtaining medical supplies, the Washington Post reported.
Kushner has tapped volunteers from consulting and private equity firms to help his response team, but inexperience has reportedly hampered their efforts.
“Americans are facing a crisis of tragic proportions and there is an urgent need for an effective, efficient and bold response,” the complaint states. “From my few weeks as a volunteer, I believe we are falling short.”
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A volunteer on Jared Kushner’s coronavirus response team filed a complaint to the House Oversight Committee in April expressing concerns that the group’s efforts to obtain vital medical supplies were “falling short,” which was linked to inexperience, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
“Americans are facing a crisis of tragic proportions and there is an urgent need for an effective, efficient and bold response,” the complaint states. “From my few weeks as a volunteer, I believe we are falling short. I am writing to alert my representatives of these challenges and to ask that they do everything possible to help front-line health-care workers and other Americans in need.”
“I believe the volunteers are competent, hard working and intelligent, but we represent a smaller procurement team than at most midsized companies despite the magnitude of the crisis,” the complaint added. “I believe America deserves a larger, better-funded response. The team generally works 12+ hour days, seven days per week, but frankly has little to show for it.”
The complaint was sent to the committee on April 8. The volunteer, whose identity remains anonymous, has left the group. The Post said that half a dozen administration officials, and one outside adviser, confirmed key elements of the complaint.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, has tapped volunteers from consulting and private equity firms to help his response team. The team also works with private industry executives and government officials, the Post reported, including Brad Smith, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, and Adam Boehler, a former Health and Human Services official who was asked to help the coronavirus response.
But lack of experience among volunteers has reportedly hampered the group’s efforts, as it takes a certain level of expertise to navigate the complex Food and Drug Administration rules surrounding medical equipment, and to understand the different types of supplies hospitals might need.
The volunteers also did not have any existing relationships with manufacturers, according to the complaint and two senior administration officials, per the Post. As a result, they’ve struggled to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) that frontline health care workers nationwide desperately need, such as masks, in combatting the coronavirus pandemic.
The complaint reportedly stated that part of the problem was the volunteers used personal email accounts, and not official government email addresses, in their communications with manufacturers. This also raises concerns about record keeping, though officials told the Post that the volunteers were told to save and share copies of all of their official emails, in accordance with the Federal Records Act.
According to the Post, the team was also been ordered to give preference to tips on equipment from “VIPs,” which included figures from Fox News like Jeanine Pirro and “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade.
Some government officials and a top ethics group in Washington expressed concerns to the Post about the nature of the group and the reliance on volunteers.
Kushner defended the team’s efforts in a statement to the paper, referring to the volunteers as “true patriots.”
“The bottom line is that this program sourced tens of millions of masks and essential PPE in record time and Americans who needed ventilators received ventilators,” the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser said.
The Post also reported that as the group struggled to obtain protective equipment, roughly 30% of “key supplies” from the national stockpile of emergency equipment were dedicated to another effort spearheaded by Kushner for drive-through testing sites for coronavirus. This effort largely failed. Kushner originally promised thousands of sites, with only dozens (78) ultimately set up.
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