Charles Kushner is an American businessman and real estate developer who is best known as the founder of the Kushner Companies. New Jersey is where Charles was born and reared. He came from a family of Polish Jews who moved to the U.S. after the Soviets took over Poland.
Charles finished high school and went to the Hofstra University School of Law to study law. After a few years of practicing law, he took his father’s business assets and started his own company, Kushner Companies, in 1985.
He was in the real estate business, which did well for the next 20 years and helped Charles make a lot of money. In the 2000s, though, he was involved in a few controversies that hurt his reputation. In the middle of the 2000s, he pled guilty to 18 charges of tax evasion, witness tampering, and illegal campaign contributions. He received a two-year prison term. After these charges and time in jail, Charles turned his attention to New York City and put a lot of money into the city’s real estate. He donated heavily to the Democratic Party prior to 2016, but when Donald Trump ran for president, he donated to his Make America Great Again PAC.
Childhood & Early Life
Charles Kushner’s parents, Rae and Joseph Kushner gave birth to him as Chanan Kushner on May 16, 1954, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. His Polish Jewish parents made it through the Holocaust. After the Second World War, in the middle of the 1940s, the USSR took over eastern Poland. In 1949, Charles’ parents left Poland and moved to the United States.
He was given the name Chanan at birth, after his uncle, who had died in the Jewish Holocaust. Chanan was the youngest child.
He had an older brother and an older sister who were both born before him. The family moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey, and his dad started working in construction right away.
He finally got jobs as a builder and an investor in real estate. By the time he finished high school, his father’s real estate business was well established.
But Charles Kushner first wanted to be a lawyer, so in the late 1970s, he moved to New York to go to Hofstra University School of Law. After he graduated, he went to work as a lawyer right away. Charles began working in real estate with his father around the middle of the 1980s.
In the 1980s, his father’s company ran about 4,000 apartments in New Jersey, and Charles was put in charge of running the apartments. In 1985, Charles started his own business, which he called Kushner Companies. The company’s main market was in New Jersey, but Charles also paid attention to the market in New York.
Charles Kushner became the company’s chairman, and his company did well. By the late 1990s, Charles was known as a “hotshot” real estate developer, and his company did well. In 1999, he was given the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award by Ernst & Young in New Jersey. At the beginning of the 21st century, the New Jersey-based company had about 10,000 apartments, industrial properties, commercial properties, and homebuilding businesses.
In 2007, Charles said that his company had bought the New York building at 666 Fifth Avenue for $1.8 billion. In 2006, the business deal moved forward. At the time, it was known as the biggest deal ever made on a building in New York City. But a few years later, during a recession, Kushner Companies lost a lot of money. This made Charles think about tearing down the building.
Charles Kushner had planned to tear down the old building and build one that was twice as big. But Steven Roth of Vornado got in the way and was very against the idea. He suggested buying out shares instead. This is why Charles gave Vornado, another real estate company, 49.5% of the building.
After what happened with 666 Fifth Avenue and other properties, Charles Kushner started to pay less attention to the unpredictable New Jersey real estate market and more attention to the New York market.
The company hired 800 people, and in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York, record sales of homes were made. All of the sales added up to $2 million. In 2016, the company opened the Trump Bay Street, a 50-story apartment building in New Jersey. Within a year, half of the apartments in the towers were taken. At the moment, the company owns Monmouth Mall and several other properties in New Jersey. Charles Kushner bought the joint venture that owned the mall and became the owner of the mall. In 2020, it was said that Freddie Mac, a government-backed lender, gave Kushner Companies a sum that was very close to a record. The company took out a loan for $786 million and used it to buy many properties in Virginia and Maryland.
But the move was controversial, and Michael Kushner’s son Jared, who was President Trump’s Senior Advisor, had a conflict of interest.
In the middle of the 2000s, Charles Kushner gave money to the Democratic Party, even though he didn’t have permission to do so on behalf of his partnerships. The Federal Election Commission didn’t like it, so Charles Kushner had to pay a fine of about $500,000 it.
After this happened, there was an investigation into Charles and the other money he gave to political campaigns. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, and he was found guilty of a number of charges. As part of the deal, Charles pleaded guilty to 18 counts of witness tampering, tax evasion, and giving money to political parties without permission while elections were going on.
The media paid the most attention to Charles because of the claims that he tried to influence witnesses. Charles’ brother-in-law, William Schulder, Charles’ brother-in-law, had turned into a witness to Charles’ wrongdoings and was helping the tax evasion case investigators. Charles hired a prostitute to seduce William, and then he had the tape sent to his sister. This accusation that Charles tampered with a witness did a lot of damage to his reputation.
He was given a two-year prison sentence, which he ended up serving in the Federal Prison Camp in Alabama for 14 months. After being sentenced to 14 months, he was sent to a halfway house in New York City, where he would spend the rest of his time. He was let out of prison in August 2006.
His reputation as a lawyer was also hurt by these accusations and the time he spent in prison. Because of this, he couldn’t work as a lawyer in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or New York.
At the end of 2016, it was estimated that the Kushner family had a total net worth of $1.8 billion. Charles Kushner also met two people in jail who he later hired to work for his business.
Before 2016, Charles Kushner gave a lot of money to the Democratic Party. But when Donald Trump ran for president, he backed him.
Charles Kushner is on the boards of Stern College for Women, the Rabbinical College of America, Touro College, and the United States Jewish Communities. Charles Kushner has given money to Harvard University and St. Barnabas Medical Center. He also started two schools, the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, and named them after his parents.
There is a building on the Hofstra University campus called Kushner Hall, which is named after him. He also gave the Shaare Zedek Medical Center $20 million.
Through his Make America Great Again PAC, he gave $1,000,000 to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015. Charles also had a party at their mansion in Long Branch for Donald Trump.
Family and other things
Charles Kushner married Seryl Stadtmauer, and they had four kids: Nicole, Jared, Joshua, and Dara.
Jared Kushner went on to marry Ivanka Trump, who is the daughter of former U.S. President Donald Trump and became Trump’s top advisor.
Joshua, Charles’s other son, started his own investment business.