Marvel Entertainment Chief Ike Perlmutter Revealed as Secret Veteran Affairs Advisor (Report)
The reclusive billionaire is one of three members of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago private members club who have been unofficially influencing veterans policy.
Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter is reportedly part of a troika of wealthy men "shadow" governing the Department of Veteran Affairs.
According to a report by ProPublica published Tuesday, Perlmutter, along with two other members of Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, have been overseeing policy at the VA for months, with a significant hand in shaping policy, overseeing personnel decisions as well as being in regular contact with officials from the department.
ProPublica reports that Perlmutter is the leader of the group shadow running the VA with the other men being Marc Sherman, a lawyer, and Bruce Moskowitz, a Palm Beach doctor. None of the three men holds official government positions and none are veterans. All are members of Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where membership initiation fees cost $200,000.
ProPublica cites interviews and documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act that show that Perlmutter, Sherman and Moskowitz, dubbed the "Mar-a-Lago crowd" by VA staffers, had an unprecedented level of influence over the direction of department policy including pushing for the start of new programs. Such was the power of the "Mar-a-Lago crowd" that VA staffers had to fly down to the resort to consult the group on strategy at taxpayers' expense. “Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring,” a former administration official told ProPublica.
One of the initiatives the Mar-a-Lago group put forward was an app for veterans to help them find nearby medical services. Perlmutter reportedly put VA officials in touch with Apple to work on the app, and the group pushed the project forward despite reservations from both the tech giant and the VA. The app was finally killed after it lost support among the Mar-a-Lago group itself.
In a joint statement to ProPublica, Perlmutter, Sherman and Moskowitz sought to downplay their influence over the VA. “At all times, we offered our help and advice on a voluntary basis, seeking nothing at all in return,” they said. “While we were always willing to share our thoughts, we did not make or implement any type of policy, possess any authority over agency decisions or direct government officials to take any actions … To the extent anyone thought our role was anything other than that, we don’t believe it was the result of anything we said or did.”
The trio also denied to ProPublica that they accrued any financial benefit in volunteering their services to the VA.
The rarely seen or photographed Perlmutter has been a close friend of Trump for many years. The 75-year-old Israeli American rescued Marvel Comics from bankruptcy in the 1990s and then sold the company to Disney for $4 billion in December 2009. He retained the titles of CEO and chairman of Marvel Entertainment after the Disney deal, but he stopped overseeing Marvel Studios in 2015 and quietly dropped the CEO title in the last few years.