His father’s stint in jail
A flamboyant developer, Charles Kushner, 62, was a major Democratic donor and one of New Jersey’s premier power players. But he suffered a spectacular fall from grace. In 2001, his brother learned Charles had used family business partners to make political contributions without their consent. When Chris Christie, then U.S. attorney for New Jersey, launched an aggressive investigation, Charles blackmailed his sister to discourage her from cooperating: He paid a prostitute $10,000 to lure her husband to a motel room, and sent a videotape of the encounter to his sister. “It was like a Sopranos episode,” says Kushner adversary Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. Charles pleaded guilty to 18 felony counts, including making illegal campaign contributions and retaliating against a federal witness, and was sentenced to two years in an Alabama penitentiary. Jared Kushner took it hard. He visited Charles in prison every Sunday, and came to share his father’s belief he’d been sold down the river by jealous relatives and the media. “I felt what happened was obviously unjust in terms of the way [prosecutors] pursued him,” Jared says.