Throughout his filmmaking career, documentarian Alex Gibney has made it his business to expose egregious abuse of power at the hands of the moneyed; from the corporate boardroom (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”), to religions that behave like pyramid schemes (“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”), and most recently to unbelievable medical hoaxes (“The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley”). In “Dirty Money,” an ambitious Netflix docuseries for which Gibney serves as executive producer, the filmmaker takes aim at a corrupt landlord who has bewilderingly become one of the most powerful men in the world: Jared Kushner.
The investor and real estate developer now serves as chief adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald J. Trump. But before he was the favorite child of our reigning megalomaniac-in-chief, Kushner was the head of Kushner Companies, the massive real estate company bequeathed to him by his father, Charles Kushner. The third episode in “Dirty Money” Season 2 is titled “Slumlord Millionaire.” In it, one interview subject refers to Kushner as “tier one predator,” as the rest of episode attempts to dissect exactly how Kushner may have used his position in the U.S. government to secure business deals for his private company.
The episode premiered Wednesday, March 11, along with six other equally compelling one-hour investigations. For anyone who cares about government transparency, corruption, and housing rights, “Slumlord Millionaire” is well worth checking out. In the meantime, here are some of the most shocking revelations from the episode:
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Charles Kushner once hired a sex worker to frame and intimidate his brother-in-law out of testifying against him.
Most people know Kushner’s father went to federal prison for 14 months in 2005. Following an investigation led by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, Charles Kushner pled guilty to 18 counts of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. What most people don’t know, however, is the witness tampering charge came about because Charles Kushner hired a sex worker to seduce his brother-in-law, filmed the interaction, and had the tape sent to his sister, the man’s wife.
Kushner’s rental properties have received hundreds of health code violations, including the presence of lead paint, lung carcinogens, and fire safety hazards.
In many cases, the New York City Housing Authority issued violations but never followed up on collecting fine payments, much less to check whether or not Kushner Companies fixed the dangerous living conditions. In one case, a woman’s ceiling collapsed directly over her bed, leaving brick and cement debris. She was not home at the time, but had she been in bed, she could have been severely injured or killed.
Kushner Companies sued a single mother for breaking her lease three years after she had received written permission to do so.
In 2010, a home health care worker named Kamiia Warren got written permission from the building’s on-site manager to break her lease early after an elderly neighbor began behaving erratically. Kushner Companies did not even own her property in 2010, but sued her for breaking her lease when it bought the property three years later. Unable to find the document proving she had permission to leave, Kushner Companies got legal permission to clear out her bank account and garnish her wages.
Kushner Companies did not have Certificates of Occupancy for many of its New York City rental buildings, and the government looked the other way.
A Certificate of Occupancy, or CO, must be obtained by the New York City Health Department proving that a building is safe to live in. In many cases, Kushner Companies was renting units to people to live in without obtaining CO’s, and the city looked the other way. It hasn’t been proven why the city is so loose with Kushner Companies, but Charles Kushner has donated to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and there are known emails between Kushner and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio.
“Dirty Money: Slumlord Millionaire” was directed by Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme. “Dirty Money” Season 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.