Billionaire sex offender Epstein gave heavily to Democrats, until he didn’t

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Jeffrey Epstein (Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images)

Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire hedge fund manager, settled in court Tuesday more than a decade after his saga of sexual exploitation of underage girls was revealed by the Palm Beach police in 2005.

According to an investigation by the Miami Herald, from at least 2001 to 2005, Epstein lured underage girls to his Palm Beach mansion to partake in a network of sexual exploitation.

Epstein, whose friends included Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and a constellation of other high-powered politicians and businessmen, donated extensively to Democrats throughout the nineties and early 2000s up until the investigations into the allegations of sexual coercion of a minor began.

Epstein’s donations to the Democratic Party halted in 2004 when the federal prosecutor for his trial was Alex Acosta, a conservative Republican who is currently Secretary of Labor under President Donald Trump.

From 1990 up until 2004, Epstein donated more than $145,000 to Democratic federal candidates and PACs, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Notable recipients include former President Bill Clinton and former Republican Senator Bob Packwood. In 2004, the year leading up to a full-swing police probe into the allegations of sexual exploitation of underage girls, his political giving abruptly stopped.

From 2000-2004, Epstein donated $55,000 to Democrats John Kelly, Richard Gephardt, and other high-profile politicians.

After a hiatus in political giving during the investigations into his sexual abuse, Epstein gave to independent Connecticut House candidate Gwendolyn Beck in 2014 and U.S. Virgin Islands Democratic Delegate Stacey Plaskett in 2016 and in the most recent midterms — Epstein owns a private island in the Virgin Islands called Little Saint James.

Another Democrat who benefitted from his contributions was Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. Senator Dodd lobbied for the pardoning of Edward Downe, Jr, a former Bear Stearns principal, when Downe was convicted for insider trading. After Downe paid an $11 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dodd sent a letter to President Bill Clinton on Downe’s behalf, and Clinton gave Downes a controversial pardon.

Epstein’s victims were mainly from the Palm Beach area. One of his victims worked at Mar-a-Lago when she was “recruited” to Epstein’s network of underage sexual exploitation.

Epstein was one of the largest investors in the hedge fund managed by Bears Stearns and a key federal witness in the criminal prosecution of two of Bearn Stearn’s top executives in 2008 — the same year a non-prosecution agreement between federal prosecutors and Epstein’s legal team was negotiated. It is not known if this case played a role in Epstein’s plea negotiations.

The Herald’s look into the plea negotiations revealed an unusual level of collaboration between federal prosecutors, led by Acosta and Epstein’s legal team of political powerhouses — Alan Dershowitz, Kenneth Starr, Jay Lefkowitz, Roy Black, and Jack Goldberger.

A series of stories in the Miami Herald revealed the terms in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office under Acosta colluded with Epstein’s lawyers to hide the details of the agreement from the victims, to keep the terms of the deal under seal, and to cancel the grand jury subpoenas.

As part of the non-prosecution agreement from 2008, Epstein served 13 months in the Palm Beach County stockade after pleading guilty to two minor prostitution-related charges.

Tuesday’s trial, which was settled out of court, was the result of a complex dispute between Edwards — the lawyer who represented several of the victims — and Epstein. The settlement was connected to the litigation that sought to undo the controversial non-prosecution agreement.

The Palm Beach trials were expected to be a rare opportunity for the dozens of women connected to Epstein to make public their accounts of how they were sexually exploited.

The decades of lawsuits ended with an apology from Epstein, not to the women who were sexually exploited by Epstein, but to the lawyer who represented them.

Research contributions were made by Kaitlin Washburn.

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