Ike Perlmutter, the Chairman of Marvel Entertainment, has spent much of Donald Trump’s tenure as President advising the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in an informal role. And in that time, his willingness to use the agency to promote Marvel Comics raised alarms with career staff within the VA, according to a new report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office. This report comes after Perlmutter claimed to ProPublica that he had never personally benefited from his role with the VA.
The report details Perlmutter stepping in to put Marvel characters — Captain America — front and center as VA officials rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange to commemorate Veteran’s Day in 2017. VA officials were mystified by Cap’s presence at the event — the agency has no business relationship with Marvel Entertainment, so it did not even have a tangential excuse for placing the character in a celebration of the country’s veterans.
Perlmutter, along with Palm Beach “concierge” physician Bruce Moskowitz and attorney Marc Sherman, are an unvetted, unappointed trio that are reportedly President Trump’s first calls when discussing veteran’s issues. None of the three has ever served the United States military. Their relationship with the VA has been accused by one veterans’ group, VoteVets, as violating a Watergate-era law around private citizens advising government.
The Federal Advisory Committee Act was established in the early 1970s and sets open meeting and records maintenance rules around advisory committees as a way of getting around what at the time was termed “locker room discussion” rampant in administrative decision making at the time. Perlmutter, Moskowitz, and Sherman have been accused of inserting themselves in the VA’s decision making process for a range of issues besides promoting Marvel Entertainment, including a $10 billion contract for medical records overhaul, hiring, partnership with Apple on an app, and a controversial program that critics claim is tantamount to privatizing the agency, contracting care for veterans out to private providers, rather than having them pursue care within VA facilities.
This report provides renewed scrutiny on Perlmutter’s relationship with Trump in the wake of the President ordering peaceful protestors to be gassed and beaten to clear a path for a photo in front of a church that did not want him there. The protesters were standing up to prior police violence against Black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and those protests in turn inspired a fresh wave of mass police violence around the country.
Marvel released a statement on Twitter supporting Black lives. However, Marvel’s notoriously litigious parent company, Disney, has yet to announce a single takedown notice against the producers of countless items of bootleg Punisher merchandise worn by police as they brutally suppress protests around the country, and during their ongoing violations of civil rights, thus necessitating further protests.