Donald Trump’s inner circle expressed shock when Hillary Clinton failed to quickly condemn Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein after allegations of sexual assault. Now, the president’s team may find the shoe on the other foot as allegations land on a business partner of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Mnuchin until June co-owned RatPac-Dune Entertainment, a film financing company that launched a partnership in 2013 with Warner Brothers to bankroll up to 75 films. Mnuchin himself was partnered with filmmaker Brett Ratner and Australian billionaire James Packer.
According to the Los Angeles Times, six women are now accusing Ratner of sexual harassment or misconduct amid a widening scandal sweeping Hollywood.
Actress Olivia Munn was among the six women, alleging Ratner in 2004 masturbated in front of her when, as a young aspiring actress, she went to deliver a meal to his trailer.
Late Wednesday, Ratner issued a statement to the newspaper saying he would voluntarily “step away from all Warner Bros.-related activities.” The studio has not made any formal comment on the widening scandal of the future of the film-financing deal.
A person familiar with the deal, who demanded anonymity in order speak freely, said that although it runs through spring 2018, steps have been taken to get distance from Ratner. A recently expired first-look deal won’t be renewed, Ratner will no longer use a trailer on the studio lot and he won’t be part of a co-production deal with Amazon Studios on the film adaptation of the Donna Tartt novel “The Goldfinch.”
The explosive allegations against Ratner don’t mention his friend and business partner Mnuchin, who was a key part of the $450 million Warner Brothers deal.
A Treasury spokeswoman, in a statement to McClatchy late Wednesday, said Mnuchin had no knowledge of his partner’s alleged improprieties.
“Mr. Ratner was an investor in RatPac-Dune Entertainment, and Secretary Mnuchin was the Managing Partner. Beyond having read allegations in the press, Secretary Mnuchin is unaware of any misconduct by Mr. Ratner,” said the statement.
Ratner attorney Martin Singer did not return a request for comment but in media reports said his client “categorically” denied the allegations. Packer could not immediately be reached for comment.
After allegations were leveled against Weinstein, Trump’s closest advisors quickly leveraged the news into an attack on Clinton.
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway criticized Clinton for waiting five days before condemning Weinstein, saying: “I felt like a woman who ran to be commander-in-chief and president of the United States, who talks about women’s empowerment, took an awfully long time to give support to these women.”
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted: “Weird, Hillary has been really quiet about Harvey Weinstein. You would think she would be all Over this. #WhatHappened?”
And the Republican National Committee sought to tie multiple Democrats to Weinstein, issuing a chart, “Harvey’s Dirty Democratic Donations.”
RatPac Entertainment was co-founded in 2012 by Ratner and Packer. Mnuchin had a financial film investment company called Dune Entertainment, and joined forced with them. When the three inked the finance deal with Warner Brothers CEO Kevin Tsujihara, one of their early successes was the blockbuster Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock. More recently the partnership funded the hit Wonder Woman.
Packer in April sold his share of RatPac-Dune Entertainment to Russian-American investor Len Blavatnik for an undisclosed sum.
When he took the Treasury post, Mnuchin promised to divest his stake in RatPac-Dune Entertainment within 120 days. But that promise was engulfed in controversy months later when he appointed as interim director of Dune Entertainment his then-fiancée Louise Linton. She was a Scottish model and actress whose film credits included Serial Daters Anonymous.
Appointed in May, Linton stepped down as interim president in June to avoid conflicts of interest after they married. Their planned nuptials were a well-kept secret until just days before they wed on June 24. Mnuchin’s divestiture of his stake in RatPac-Dune Entertainment became public on June 21, although he did not reveal who bought him out or at what price.
A former Goldman Sachs executive, Mnuchin was a target for Democrats when nominated because of his “fire sale” purchase of the assets of failed bank Indy Mac amid the Great Recession. His bank later foreclosed on thousands of struggling California homeowners.
Mnuchin’s new bride was quickly introduced to the rough-and-tumble world of Washington politics when she drew unwanted headlines in August for using hashtags such as #tomfordsunnies and #hermesscarf along with photos she posted on her Instagram account. Critics accused her of lending her high-profile name to the clothing and accessories she regularly wore. Linton denied receiving any renumeration.