Skip to comments.Lurid Charges Hit Top Donor to New Jersey Governor
Posted on 07/13/2004 10:44:32 PM PDT by conservative in nyc
EWARK, July 13 - Gov. James E. McGreevey's top contributor was charged on Tuesday in a bizarre scheme to enlist prostitutes in an effort to silence potential witnesses in a federal investigation of possible illegal campaign contributions.
In a criminal complaint that reads like a plot line from an Elmore Leonard novel, Charles Kushner, a New Jersey landowner and businessman with close ties to many religious and political figures, was charged with hiring prostitutes to entice his brother-in-law and his accountant into sexually compromising situations.
The complaint says that the accountant did not take the bait, but that the brother-in-law did. The result, prosecutors said, was a sexual encounter between the brother-in-law and a high-priced New York call girl in a Bridgewater motel room last December that was recorded by a hidden camera.
The complaint, which mentions no name except Mr. Kushner's, says that he and his co-conspirators mailed the incriminating tape to a relative with whom he was feuding and who was cooperating with investigators. Based on the allegations in a separate civil suit, that family member is believed to be Mr. Kushner's sister, Esther Schulder. Her husband, William E. Schulder, did not return calls seeking confirmation that he was involved. Robert Yontef, the accountant, could not be reached either. The mailing, according to the complaint, was an attempt to "retaliate" against the potential witnesses and block any further cooperation.
The complaint against Mr. Kush- ner, the chief executive of the Kushner Companies of Florham Park, is likely to add to the political troubles of Governor McGreevey, who has been plagued throughout his two and a half years in office with questions about his associates.
The governor, a Democrat, is still reeling from the fallout from a federal indictment last week involving another campaign contributor and a top fund-raiser, and has been plagued by a long list of scandals involving people close to him. This week there is growing pressure for his commerce secretary, William J. Watley, to step down after a state criminal investigation into possible improprieties by a top aide.
Mr. McGreevey has had a close relationship with Mr. Kushner, who has been the largest contributor to his campaigns over the years, donating $1.5 million for his 1997 and 2001 campaigns, the first one unsuccessful, for governor.
After the announcement of Mr. Kushner's arrest, Mr. McGreevey's director of communications, Kathleen Ellis, released a statement saying: "We are saddened to hear of the allegations. It would be inappropriate however to comment further on matters unrelated to this office."
Mr. Kushner, 50, is a well-known figure in New Jersey and in Democratic political circles. He has been a benefactor to many Jewish and Catholic causes, and has contributed generously to many prominent Democrats. Among his beneficiaries are New Jersey's two senators, Jon S. Corzine and Frank R. Lautenberg, the former senators Bill Bradley and Robert G. Torricelli, former Vice President Al Gore and Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
But it is Governor McGreevey who is likely to be hurt most by Mr. Kushner's arrest and the lurid details surrounding it.
Mr. McGreevey is still trying to explain how he came to use the word "Machiavelli" in a conversation with a fund-raiser and contributor - a fact revealed last week in an indictment of the fund-raiser.
The fund-raiser, David D'Amiano, said the word was a designated code that would signal the governor's complicity in a deal to assist the contributor in a land dispute in return for $40,000 in campaign funds. Mr. McGreevey insists the use of the word was entirely innocent.
The United States attorney in New Jersey, Christopher J. Christie, in making the announcement of Mr. Kushner's arrest, insisted that the charges against Mr. Kushner were indications of "a very discrete crime." Mr. Christie, a possible Republican candidate for governor in 2005, has been accused of conducting politically motivated investigations to embarrass Mr. McGreevey. But on Tuesday he said: "If I thought this painted a picture of corruption in the state, then I would have said so, but I didn't. There is nothing in this document presented today that has anything to do with Mr. McGreevey."
Instead, he portrayed the case as a reaction to "an attack on our grand jury system."
But if Mr. Christie chose not to link Mr. McGreevey to the case, others were not so delicate.
"Fairly or unfairly,'' said Tom Wilson, a Republican strategist, "you are judged by the company you keep, and for the governor the challenge is that with all the cabinet officers and fund-raisers who have had problems, it reflects badly on his administration."
Mr. Kushner surrendered to F.B.I. agents Tuesday morning and appeared before Magistrate Judge Ronald J. Hedges. Appearing grim in an open-collar white shirt, gray slacks and handcuffs, the real estate developer, said to be worth billions, was released on $5 million bond. The evidence in the case is likely to be presented to a grand jury whose inquiry is continuing, and if an indictment results, Mr. Kushner will be back in court to be formally arraigned and charged.
One of the four lawyers with Mr. Kushner during his court appearance, Benjamin Brafman, said his client planned to plead not guilty.
"Charles Kushner is one of this country's most prominent businessmen and one of the great philanthropists of this century" said Mr. Brafman, whose clients have included Michael Jackson and Sean Combs. "These charges are completely baseless, and when this matter is resolved in court, he will be completely exonerated," he added.
Mr. Kushner's problems come at the end of a two-year period in which his behind-the-scenes role in politics was beginning to give way to a more public, and not always flattering, profile. In January he emerged as the lead investor in a group, including Senator Corzine, that bid more than $300 million to purchase the New Jersey Nets in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the Nets, of the National Basketball Association, out of the hands of a buyer who intends to move them to Brooklyn.
In early 2003, Mr. Kushner was Mr. McGreevey's nominee to be chairman of the Port Authority, but he withdrew in the face of opposition from Republicans in the evenly split Senate that had to confirm him. At the time, he balked about answering questions surrounding charges that he had illegally bundled campaign contributions from corporate donors.
Those charges had, up to that time, been mentioned only in a sealed civil lawsuit brought by members of the fractious Kushner family, who were challenging the direction in which Mr. Kushner was taking the family business, especially his handling of political contributions. The criminal complaint, in the form of an affidavit by an F.B.I. agent, charges that in the spring of 2003, as the federal investigation into his handling of contributions and other Kushner Company matters intensified, Mr. Kushner enlisted two co-conspirators. It says he asked them to help him hire prostitutes who would be paid to have sex with a relative - an in-law who once worked for the Kushner Companies - and another former employee who he believed were cooperating with federal investigators.
The scheme was to pay $25,000 to the prostitutes and co-conspirators, said the court document. The complaint does not name any of the co-conspirators and cooperating witnesses, referring to them as CW1 and CW2, and Mr. Christie refused to give further details about their identities.
According to the complaint, when his two co-conspirators were unable to find a prostitute willing to participate, Mr. Kushner himself found a woman in New York City who agreed to participate in the scheme for between $7,000 and $10,000.
The first attempt at luring Cooperating Witness 2 occurred on Dec. 4, when the woman was instructed to wait outside a diner for the man, pretend to have car trouble and ask him to take her to the motel where she said she was staying, the complaint said. The target of the scheme agreed to take her to the motel, according to the complaint, but refused an invitation to her room.
But they exchanged telephone numbers, and the next day they arranged to meet in the motel room where a hidden camera filmed them having sex.
A similar effort by a second prostitute later that month to ensnare another person, a former employee called Cooperating Witness 3 and who was not a Kushner relative, foundered when the man repeatedly refused the woman's advances.
Mr. Christie said that reports of the effort to obstruct his investigation came to his office in early May when the wife of the cooperating witness who had been caught on tape having sex brought the videotape to prosecutors in his office.
Should Mr. Kushner go to trial and be convicted, he faces up to 10 years each on the charges of retaliating against a witness and attempting to obstruct another, and five years on charges of promoting interstate prostitution.
Tony Soprano is cleaner than these guys. He doesn't leave fingerprints connecting him to the underworld work he does.
Hey yo! Watch that!
What a bunch of creeps.
Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Travel. For those with public trusts, they are exit ramps to pain and oblivion.
In the words of the FBI...90% of all unions have *significant" penetration by organized crime.
There are no clean "associates" in New Jersey politics - - the place is corrupt to the core, owned and operated in a strange cooperation between the education mafia and the regular Mafia. In fact, it's a little hard to tell who's who....
Well, well well... Look who else Charles Kushner gave campaign contributions to. He's a real RAT From fec.gov:
KERRY, JOHN F
VIA KERRY COMMITTEE
02/04/1997 1000.00 97020072549
02/04/1997 1000.00 97020072496
Note that this was in 1997, NOT in connection with the Presidential race.
And other RATS running this year:
KNOWLES, TONY (Alaska)
VIA TONY KNOWLES FOR US SENATE
11/10/2003 1000.00 24020100636
SCHUMER, CHARLES E (New York)
VIA FRIENDS OF SCHUMER
09/29/2003 1000.00 23020451028
09/29/2003 1000.00 23020451028
CLINTON, HILLARY RODHAM (New York)
VIA FRIENDS OF HILLARY
09/29/2003 2000.00 23020432407
09/29/2003 2000.00 23020432407
MENENDEZ, ROBERT (New Jersey Congress)
VIA MENENDEZ FOR CONGRESS
02/21/2003 2000.00 23990715013
02/21/2003 2000.00 23990715012
PASCRELL, WILLIAM J JR (New Jersey Congress)
VIA PASCRELL FOR CONGRESS INC.
11/13/2003 2500.00 24990051657
12/24/2003 -500.00 24990051657
12/24/2003 500.00 24990051657
02/20/2004 1500.00 24990988448
03/31/2004 1500.00 24991182707
LANTOS, TOM (California Congress)
VIA TOM LANTOS FOR CONGRESS COMMITTEE
10/13/2003 2000.00 24990395714
And DNC causes:
DNC SERVICES CORPORATION/DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE
12/31/2003 25000.00 24990372453
10/25/2002 1000000.00 22992883861
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE
12/19/2003 10000.00 24961534667
DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE
09/26/2003 10000.00 23020403323
02/23/2004 7500.00 24020162303
That's because the voters here have a love affair with organized crime. They just can't get enough of it. We idolize the military - New Jerseyans (is that a word?) idolize the mob.
Kushner's stupidity is mind-boggling. Did he think he was the only one in the family willing to play hardball? If he did, his sister just showed him how terribly wrong he was.
Now, I am confident that Michael Moore will do a documentary on this.
I'm still waiting . . . .
Let's see if I have this straight.
Republicans follow the rules and Democrats frequently break them.
What is the "education mafia?"
More dirt on Kushner and his connections to Clinton.
Kushner is the chairman of Kushner Cos., which includes more than 40 business partnerships that deal mostly with developing and managing real estate. He has about 1,000 employees and owns or manages more than 24,000 apartment units and 7.5 million square feet of office, industrial and retail space.
Kushner Cos. owns property in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Massachusetts, and it has affiliated businesses in banking, insurance, real estate brokerage, hospitality and technology, according to its Web site.
Kushner emerged in the 1990s as one of the national Democratic Party's largest contributors of so-called "soft money," now restricted by federal law. He and his family and business associates have given more than $369,000 to McGreevey since 1997.
According to information compiled from Federal Election Commission reports by the Center for Responsive Politics, he gave $160,000 in 1998 and 2000 to McGreevey's federal PAC, the Committee for Working Families.
All told, Kushner, his partnerships and his family gave $1.6 million in direct and "soft money" contributions to federal committees in the 1998 and 2000 election cycles, of which nearly $1.5 million went to Democrats.
About $541,000 of those contributions were apparently made by Kushner in the name of his associates without their approval. Two weeks ago, he paid a $508,900 fine for them, the fourth largest fine ever imposed by the Federal Election Commission.
In addition to McGreevey's committee, the contributions were made to one-time presidential contender and U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., as well as U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., plus 12 other accounts.
Kushner has mostly stopped giving money to McGreevey and state Democrats after questions were raised about whether such contributions are legal because Kushner is controlling owner of NorCrown Bank, and bank owners can't donate in New Jersey.
But the campaign contributions aren't Kushner's only link to McGreevey.
Kushner became friends with Gary Taffet, who was McGreevey's chief of staff when he was Woodbridge mayor and after he became governor. In 2000, Kushner bought an insurance company from Taffet for $3.4 million, just before Taffet went to work for McGreevey's successful election campaign.
Taffet was recently charged with insider trading in a Securities and Exchange Commission civil complaint. The complaint alleged he used and passed on to business associates insider mergers and acquisitions information he obtained from an associate of his insurance business.
Kushner also hired one-time McGreevey homeland security adviser Golan Cipel, an Israeli poet who had worked on his 2001 campaign to reach out to Jewish voters, to a $30,000 public relations job in 2001 and sponsored his work visa. Cipel resigned when the federal government refused to give him a security clearance and after questions were raised as to whether he was qualified for the position.
In 2002, McGreevey appointed Kushner to the influential Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The governor intended to make him its chairman, but Kushner resigned after investigations of his business and political activities became public.
Kushner also has a long history of philanthropic donations and service. He is responsible for building and developing the current campus of the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and Kushner Yeshiva High School, named for his late father, in his hometown Livingston.
He also serves, or has served, on the board of directors of New York University, Hofstra University, Stern College, Touro College, Daughters of Israel Geriatric Center, the Rabbinical College of America and is a trustee of MetroWest Foundation.
Kushner, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, was appointed by President Clinton -- for whom Kushner had raised significant political donations -- to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
The governor, a Democrat, is still reeling from the fallout from a federal indictment last week involving another campaign contributor and a top fund-raiser, and has been plagued by a long list of scandals involving people close to him. This week there is growing pressure for his commerce secretary, William J. Watley, to step down after a state criminal investigation into possible improprieties by a top aide.Wow, Democratic political corruption in New Jersey? Shocking. [rimshot!]
America's Love Affair with the GangsterAll throughout Joe Kennedy's life, he seized opportunities to make and exploit important connections... He was appointed chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934, but his "secret ties to gangsters continued" (Fox 61)... He was appointed America's ambassador to Great Britain in 1938 and held that position until his stand on Nazi Germany embarrassed the White House and he was recalled in 1940... At the Democratic convention, the bosses delivered 104 2 of New York's 114 votes to Kennedy. David Lawrence, governor of Pennsylvania, came through with sixty-four of Pennsylvania's eighty-one delegates. Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley owed Kennedy a favor and came across with 59 1/2 of his state's 69 votes at the convention (332)... Although Joe had backed off his overt mob associations in order to get John elected, he still had friends at Tammany Hall, which was the seat of the early Democratic Party in New York City and was famous for its corrupt politicians, many of whom were connected to the underworld. According to (John Kennedy's) presidential aide Kenneth O'Donnell, "if Jack had known about some of the telephone calls his father made on his behalf to Tammany type bosses during the 1960 campaign, Jack's hair would have turned white" (Fox 331). Joe enlisted the mob's help behind the scenes and Frank Sinatra to romance the public in favor of his son. "Because of Joe Kennedy, organized crime had helped elect a president" (Fox 335).
by Carolyne Packenius
Semester Research Project - Spring, 2002
George W. Bush will be reelected by a margin of at least ten per cent
Notice that Kushner got named for the position as head of the Port Authority, after his donations.
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