White House Names Exec Director of Opportunity and Revitalization Council
Former NFL player Scott Turner has been named Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. The president announced the Council’s creation in December -- an idea born out of Senator Tim Scott’s (R-SC)signature achievement in last year’s tax reform package. The purpose of Opportunity Zones is to drive investment in distressed communities across the country. The Council -- which is chaired by HUD Secretary Ben Carson -- on Thursday held its first meeting, at which Turner was named to the helm. “I have been blessed to play on a lot of teams,” Turner said at the event. “This is the greatest team.” In his role, he’ll help coordinate the Council’s efforts to target and streamline federal resources to Opportunity Zones. The former Texas state Representative first stepped into politics as an intern for former California Congressman Duncan L. Hunter, whom he worked for full-time once he retired from football. In 2006, Turner ran an unsuccessful campaign to fill California’s 50th Congressional District seat. Following the loss, he moved back to Texas to do motivational speaking. The University of Illinois grad was elected to the state House in 2012 where he served until 2015. Skeptics of the Opportunity Zone initiative have warned that the open-ended nature of the program, and its lack of any requirement for input from community leaders beneath Governors, could result in the zones being designated in places where longtime residents could be hurt. Around the time the Council was announced, the AP released an investigative piece which found that the Opportunity Zone program -- which was championed from within the White House by Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner -- could also benefit the couple financially. The AP reported that Kushner holds a big stake in a real estate investment firm that recently announced it is launching a series of Opportunity Zone funds that seek to build major projects under the program. And the couple has interests in at least 13 properties that could qualify for the tax breaks because they are in Opportunity Zones in New Jersey, New York, and Maryland. More on the Opportunity Zone Council here.