READY TO BITE?

Kush­ner fam­ily puts brakes on talks to buy Mar­lins

Texarkana Gazette - - SPORTS - By Steven Wine

MI­AMI—The Kush­ner fam­ily, which has close ties to the White House, put the brakes on its ne­go­ti­a­tions to buy the Mi­ami Mar­lins be­cause of a re­port team owner Jef­frey Lo­ria may be nominated by Pres­i­dent Trump to be­come am­bas­sador to France.

Joshua Kush­ner, whose older brother is an ad­viser to the pres­i­dent, has a pre­lim­i­nary agree­ment to buy the Mar­lins. But in a state­ment re­leased late Wed­nes­day by Kush­ner's brother-in­law, Joseph Meyer, the fam­ily ex­pressed con­cern the sale might "com­pli­cate" the am­bas­sador­ship ap­point­ment.

"Al­though the Kush­n­ers have made sub­stan­tial progress in dis­cus­sions for us to pur­chase the Mar­lins, re­cent re­ports sug­gest that Mr. Lo­ria will soon be nominated by the pres­i­dent to be am­bas­sador to France," the state­ment said. "If that is true, we do not want this un­re­lated trans­ac­tion to com­pli­cate that process and will not pur­sue it. The Kush­n­ers re­main in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing a team and would love to buy the Mar­lins at an­other time."

The New York Post re­ported Wed­nes­day that Lo­ria, a New York art dealer, is likely to be the next French am­bas­sador. The re­port named him as one of four peo­ple se­lected by White House chief of staff Reince Priebus for top diplo­matic posts.

Lo­ria is a long­time ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, which Priebus led un­til tak­ing the job with Trump. Fundrais­ing records show Lo­ria gave $125,000 last fall jointly to the Trump cam­paign and RNC.

It has long been a pres­i­den­tial tra­di­tion to re­ward gen­er­ous po­lit­i­cal donors

with plum am­bas­sador­ships.

The state­ment from the Kush­n­ers was the first pub­lic con­fir­ma­tion of their ne­go­ti­a­tions with Lo­ria.

"Our fam­ily has been friends with Jeff Lo­ria for over 30 years, been in busi­ness to­gether, and even owned a Triple-A base­ball team to­gether," the state­ment said, re­fer­ring to an Ok­la­homa City club.

Joshua Kush­ner, 31, is a New York City busi­ness­man and in­vestor and part of the real es­tate fam­ily that also in­cludes Jared Kush­ner, Trump's son-in-law and ad­viser.

Mar­lins of­fi­cials haven't com­mented. Team pres­i­dent David Samson said he will speak Fri­day about the sta­tus of sale ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Other par­ties are also in­ter­ested in buy­ing the Mar­lins, and Lo­ria might re­open ne­go­ti­a­tions with them.

Jared Kush­ner, who is mar­ried to Ivanka Trump, is not be­lieved to part of the re­cent ef­fort to the buy team. Nei­ther is the Kush­n­ers' fa­ther, Charles, who ran the fam­ily real es­tate firm un­til he went to prison for tax eva­sion, mak­ing il­le­gal cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions and wit­ness in­tim­i­da­tion.

The Mar­lins, who last won the World Se­ries in 2003, be­gan spring train­ing this week amid the news of a pos­si­ble sale. Man­ager Don Mat­tingly said the on­go­ing de­vel­op­ments won't be a dis­trac­tion.

"Above my pay grade," Mat­tingly said Thurs­day. "I don't worry about things I can't con­trol. It's the same with this ball­club. When you play pro­fes­sion­ally, you know how to cut out dis­trac­tions."

Mat­tingly was the Los An­ge­les Dodgers' man­ager when Frank McCourt sold that team after it filed for bank­ruptcy.

"That was more of a soap opera, for sure," Mat­tingly said. "But even though there was a lot of talk about it and a lot of noise about it, it re­ally didn't change any­thing I was try­ing to do. It has noth­ing to do with what we at field level are try­ing to do. And it's not like we're get­ting up­dates on what's go­ing on. We don't re­ally know."

As­so­ci­ated Press

n Mi­ami Mar­lins owner Jef­frey Lo­ria, left, watches with catcher J.T. Real­muto dur­ing a spring train­ing base­ball work­out Tues­day in Jupiter, Fla.

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