This is the fourth article in an occasional series about Jews who work in the Trump administration.
If Donald Trump had not sued Reed Cordish’s father, the younger Cordish might not be working in the White House today.
Cordish, 42, is helping Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, put together the Office of American Innovation, which aims to bring the government and private sector together to create jobs while eliminating bureaucratic red tape.
Cordish, reportedly one of the wealthiest members of the Trump administration, with assets estimated at $200 million to $400 million, was appointed assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives.
He spent 18 years as a principal at the family’s Baltimore-based real estate business, the Cordish Companies. While there, Cordish worked under his father, CEO David Cordish, and managed the company’s entertainment properties, which included casinos, hotels, sports facilities and residential development.
It was a dispute over a casino that led to Trump’s lawsuit against the Cordish family business.
In 2004, Trump sued the Cordish Companies for allegedly stealing his contract for a Hollywood, Fla., hotel and casino. The parties settled the case in 2010, according Securities and Exchange Commission document.
During a Maryland Republican Party fundraiser June 2015, Trump recounted his relationship with David Cordish:
“I sued David [Cordish],” Trump said to laughs. “For hundreds of millions of dollars. And I didn’t know him but I just said, ‘I’m gonna get this guy whoever the hell he is.’ … But I walk in and I like fell in love in about two minutes. I said, ‘This guy’s a great guy.’… We worked out our problems in 12 seconds and we’ve been friends ever since.”
Reed Cordish has an additional layer of access to the Trumps.
His relationship with First Daughter Ivanka Trump and Kushner dates back to 2010 when Cordish married Margaret Katz, a friend of Ivanka’s. Rabbi David Wolfman, a Boston-based rabbinic coach, married them in the Cordish’s Baltimore home, according to the New York Times.
While introducing Trump at the fundraiser, David Cordish recounted the story of how Reed and his future wife met.
“A few years ago I was talking to Ivanka, and I said ‘Ivanka, don’t you have a twin sister?’” he said. “She said, ‘David, of course you know I don’t have a twin sister.’ And I said, ‘Well, you know my son Reed. He’s been playing the field long enough. It’s time he settled down. If you had a twin sister.’ [Ivanka Trump said,] ‘I don’t have a twin sister but one of my best friends, Maggie, recently broke up. She’s available. Let’s fix ‘em up.’”
With this intimate connection between the Trump and Cordish families, Reed Cordish’s White House appointment was not a surprise to Brook Hazelton, a Cordish college friend from Princeton.
“When I attended Reed’s wedding, Ivanka and Jared were there and I knew that they [Cordish and the Kushners] had a nice relationship together,” Hazelton told Washington Jewish Week. “I did think it would be a possibility that something would attract a member of the Cordish family to help out the administration with all that is on its plate.”
Cordish and Hazelton were co-captains of the men’s tennis team at Princeton, and it was there that Hazelton said Cordish demonstrated his strong work ethic, showing up for practice before anyone else starting when he was a freshman.
“The thing that was always inspiring to me was the way in which Reed never gave up,” Hazelton said. “It didn’t matter what the score was in a tennis match, it didn’t matter what time it was, he wanted to get out there and improve as a tennis player and by extension as a human being.”
Hazelton said that Cordish initially wanted to pursue a professional tennis career but decided to join the family business alongside his brothers Jon and Blake.
That’s on hold for the present.
Hazelton and Cordish have kept in touch ever since graduating in 1996 and Hazelton said he has had a chance to visit with Cordish since he started working in the White House.
“He’s [Cordish] very excited about it,” he said. “He’s working all hours. It’s a big sacrifice from a personal family standpoint as well as from a professional standpoint.”
In exchange for his government service Cordish has said he will not accept a salary — a decision that his father applauded.
“I was very proud he had elected to serve his country and even more proud when he turned down any salary,” David Cordish said in an email. “Reed is one of the hardest, working most competitive, focused persons on the planet.”