Lawsuit Alleges New York Observer Benefitting From ‘Diverted’ Real Estate Money

We’ve mentioned before that in all the recent news about layoffs and foldings the New York Observer has been noticeably absent. When publisher Jared Kushner spoke to the Guardian recently, he expressed his concern about the future of the industry as a whole, but seemingly less concerned over the future of the NYO. The New Jersey Star-Ledger may have discovered why!

The paper is reporting that money from a “complicated” Manhattan real estate deal — namely the $1.8 billion purchase by Kushner Cos. of 666 5th Ave by — was wrongfully diverted by Charles Kushner (Jared’s father) to fund the New York Observer. Also! Gov. James McGreevey’s ex live-in lover is maybe involved.

From the Star-Ledger:

One of the biggest commercial real estate deals in New York history was used by developer Charles Kushner to funnel more than $5 million into the New York Observer… according to a former top Kushner executive.

Kevin Swill, the former president of Westminster Capital Associates — the financing arm of Kushner Cos. — charged the real estate transaction was used to help prop up the influential weekly, purchased by the family in 2006.

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…The lawsuit did not explain the purpose of the payments to O’Donnell, who covered the massive legal fees incurred by McGreevey in a protracted divorce proceeding brought by the former first lady, Dina Matos. Kushner was a major fundraiser for McGreevey, who in turn appointed him to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Of course Charles Kushner is saying (through a representative) that none of this is true! “The Observer is not owned by any trust account.” Which is sort of too bad since that might be the only way left to guarantee a newspaper’s future these days