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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jared Kushner's dad and a forgotten sex scandal

So much is going on! I didn't want to divert attention so soon from the previous post -- which may be very important -- but this tweet from Adam Khan has reminded me of the first time the name of Charles Kushner -- Jared's dad -- appeared in this blog. The elder Kushner played a role in a now-forgotten sex scandal which may tell us much about that clan.

The scandal involved New Jersey governor James McGreevey. Wikipedia offers the quickest summary of the case...
In early 2002, McGreevey was criticized for appointing his secret lover,[2] Israeli national Golan Cipel as homeland security adviser even though he lacked experience or other qualifications for the position. Cipel resigned but threats from his lawyers about sexual harassment lawsuits prompted McGreevey to announce, on August 12, 2004, that he was gay and would resign the governorship, effective November 15, 2004. This made McGreevey the first openly gay governor in United States history.
McGreevey was criticized for appointing as homeland security adviser Golan Cipel, because he lacked experience or other qualifications for the position. In addition, Cipel could not gain a security approval from the Federal government, as he was Israeli and not a U.S. citizen. McGreevey had met him in Israel during a trip there in 2000.
Of course, the public's attitude toward gays has become more civilized since 2002 -- yet even by current standards, this scandal is still scandalous. The governor gave an important security position to a foreign national with no applicable background.

Not only that. The remarkable Mr. Cipel, a man of no obvious talent, nevertheless moved in rarified circles even after leaving McGreevey's employ. Cipel was paid $7500 a month by construction magnate Daniel Tishman, whose firm built the World Trade Center.
At the time Mr Tishman hired Cipel, Tishman Construction Corp was seeking a contract with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority as construction adviser on the $1.3 billion Xanadu entertainment complex planned for the New Jersey Meadowlands Sports Complex, which was later approved by the Authority’s director, George Zoffinger (Gov McGreevey‘s appointee).

The contract is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Gov McGreevey, who had veto power over the board’s actions, allowed the contract to go through, perhaps as one last kiss-off to Golan Cipel—-or was it payoff for Cipel dropping the sexual harassment lawsuit?
Here's a tasty treat for you to savor: Tishman Construction was headquartered at 666 Fifth Avenue, a skyscraper owned by the company -- in fact, they had built it. Tishman sold it to Jared Kushner in 2007 (not exactly the best time for real estate investment). As everyone knows, he overpaid for the property and still must deal with the problem of being hideously over-extended.

The fact that Cipel used to work in a building now owned by Jared Kushner would be easy to dismiss as coincidence -- save for one thing: The magic Israeli has another link to the Kushner family.

Here's what I wrote back in 2009:
Cipel was brought to the United States under the auspices of New Jersey real estate mogul Charles Kushner, who eventually got into legal trouble and expected a pardon from the governor. No such pardon came, and shortly thereafter the affair with Cipel became public. To the best of my knowledge, no-one has linked Kushner to the current corruption probe, although he is closely linked to current governor Jon Corzine -- who (coincidentally) also happens to be a Goldman Sachs alum.
Previously, Cipel had worked as an "information officer" in the Israeli consulate. (If you've ever read any books about spies, you know what that means.) He then went back to Israel, where he met McGreevey, who was on a junket.

Cipel tried to blackmail the governor to the tune of $50 million. Today, Cipel claims that that the governor subjected him to repeated sexual assaults. Believe that if you will. Cipel has said that he never had sex with the Governor while the Governor insists that he and the Israeli made the beast with two parallel backs. Why would any major politician falsely claim that he had had a gay affair, when in fact he had not?
I was not the only one to voice suspicions that Cipel had subterranean links to Israeli intelligence; even Haaretz seemed to think so.

The Kushner family had a deep and longstanding relationship with Governor McGreevey, as this NY Magazine article details...
Golan Cipel was only a plaything. It was developer Charles Kushner who speeded his passage through the swamps of New Jersey patronage politics—till Kushner was brought down in his own spectacular sex scandal.
Kushner’s split with McGreevey had occurred almost nine months earlier, when Kushner was competing with Bruce Ratner to buy the New Jersey Nets. During a conference call that included the governor and two officials of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, Kushner laid out his proposal for the basketball team, and asked for a $25 million subsidy from the state.

According to sources familiar with the call, McGreevey responded in a very un-McGreevey-like way: He said no, a word he rarely spoke to anyone. Thoughtfully, he explained why the state couldn’t spend vast sums of public money to keep the Nets in New Jersey. Perhaps surprised by the governor’s intransigence, Kushner was “angry and bitterly disappointed,” according to someone on the call, and he apparently lost it. He went into a screaming tirade—everyone was stunned. When Kushner hung up, McGreevey calmly said to those around him, “Well, I guess I won’t have to put up with Charles Kushner anymore.”
Remember: Charles Kushner set up his own brother-in-law in a sex sting operation. That was his go-to play when dealing with a foe. It seems obvious that Charles Kushner wanted the governor of New Jersey to function as his puppet. When Pinocchio began to resent his strings, Kushner decided to acquire some kompromat. Even if we discount the oft-heard claim of a Cipel/Mossad link, we still have a very sordid story -- one which tells us a lot about the Kushner clan.

However, I still don't understand the weird Cipel/Tishman/666 Fifth Avenue linkage. What is it about that building? Why did Jared insist on overpaying for it?

Not only that. When Jared bought the building bearing that infernal address, he managed to squirrel away $300,000 for a very unusual purpose
Swill also said Kushner paid at least $300,000 from the deal into a separate bank account for financier Mark O'Donnell, the live-in boyfriend of former Gov. James McGreevey and now an investment officer with Kushner's companies.

Those payments, as well as others covering family loans and Kushner's personal mortgage, allegedly amounted to a "wrongful diversion" of the proceeds from a complicated purchase of 666 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan.
For some reason, the Kushner family felt obliged to make sure that McGreevey's lovers lived well -- and it all had something to do with that building.

(This post has been expanded and somewhat rewritten since original publication.)
Nice post, thanks! Here is MD voters are talking about some guy running for Governor who could possibly be the first openly gay governor...well, I guess the first to run as openly gay!

Ack, the Kushners. I'm thinking they overpaid simply to have the 666 address.
Wow! Good stuff here, Joseph--thanks for this. As a resident of NJ, I remember the McGreevey affair but I did not know of this element of it.

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