Josh Raffel, the top public relations executive for Hollywood producer Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, is departing to work for President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
Raffel, who has been with Blumhouse since 2015, will run communications for the White House Office of American Innovation, a new group charged with reforming the federal government using the private sector that will be run by Kushner. Raffel confirmed his new job to The Hollywood Reporter but declined to comment further.
Raffel, 32, previously worked for New York-based PR shop Hiltzik Strategies, where his clients included Kushner's family business, as well as such entertainment figures as Glenn Beck, Jeff Robinov's Studio 8, Sony Pictures and Blum. While there, Raffel worked with Trump's strategic communications director and former campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks, who remains a friend.
Raffel will be replaced by Teri Everett, formerly executive vp global communications for Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
The hiring comes as Kushner, 36, is staffing up Trump's new Office of American Innovation with the hope of translating successful business strategies to make the government run more efficiently. Others involved in the initiative include Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council; Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser and a senior counselor to the president; and Chris Liddell, assistant to the president for strategic initiatives (and another Hollywood alum, having worked for the WME-IMG talent agency).
Kusher has positioned the new innovation office as nonpartisan, with such business leaders as Elon Musk of Tesla, Tim Cook of Apple and Salesforce's Marc Benioff participating. “I’m hopeful that Jared will be collaborative with our industry in moving this forward," Benioff told The Washington Post. "When I talk to him, he does remind me of a lot of the young, scrappy entrepreneurs that I invest in in their 30s.”
Trump has tasked Kushner with such a broad array of responsibilities — from negotiating with Mexico to brokering Middle East peace to reinventing government — that he has become the subject of satire on late-night shows. The Harvard graduate, married to Trump daughter Ivanka, previously worked for Kushner Companies, his family’s real-estate business, but he handed those responsibilities to family members after joining the Trump transition team.
At age 25, Kushner bought the New York Observer, though he relinquished his responsibilities there in January. On March 30, The Washington Post published a lacerating essay by former New York Observer editor-in-chief Elizabeth Spiers asserting that Kushner was not qualified to reinvent government. “When I worked for him, I didn’t think he had a realistic view of his own capabilities since, like his father-in-law, he seemed to view his wealth and its concomitant accoutrements as rewards for his personal success in business, and not something he would have had in any case,” she wrote. “To me, he appeared to view his position and net worth as the products of an essentially meritocratic process."