To date, Harvard University has acknowledged accepting a total of $6.5 million in donations from Jeffrey Epstein, which it claims has already been spent, and which it does not plan to return.
This is the first of what I expect will be many, many stories about the millions of dollars registered sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein put into science and technology institutions and organizations large and small. Reputational money laundering. It wasn't just Harvard, but yes, it even includes Harvard.
Everyone who took a dime should be held accountable for their actions.
The article in today's Miami Herald first digs in to public records in Palm Beach and the state of Florida that show Epstein "sought to ingratiate himself with local officials."
Sometime between June 1, 2001, and May 31, 2002, while accusers say he was operating what amounted to a sexual pyramid scheme — luring underage girls to his home then having them recruit other girls — he gave $50,000 to the Palm Beach Police Scholarship Fund, which offers tuition help to the children of law officers. This was followed by an Oct. 16, 2003, donation to the Town of Palm Beach for $36,000.
Finally, Epstein donated $90,000 to the Palm Beach Police Department on Dec. 14, 2004 — just a few months before the initial police investigation into his conduct began.
With Epstein under scrutiny, the $90,000 was held under the pretense of purchasing new equipment. The department reasoned that returning the money might have tipped off Epstein to the fact that he was under scrutiny. The department issued him a $90,000 refund the day he turned himself in at the local jail.
Pretty wild! A lot like Gus Fring in Breaking Bad!
After he pleaded guilty to the radically-reduced charges of soliciting prostitution (sure seems a lot more like a matter of serial child rape and sexual trafficking), Epstein appears to have leveraged all those investments into getting preferential treatment from the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office:
He convinced the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office to allow him out on work release — 12 hours a day, six days a week — provided Epstein pay for a deputy to keep an eye on his whereabouts.
His "employer" was the Florida Science Foundation, a charity Epstein created a year before his sentence commenced. The foundation footed the $120,000-plus bill for the deputies.
Again with the science foundation stuff, though.
The theme running through much of the later-day Epstein philanthropy is science and technology, with a particular set of obsessions. The figures he connected with will surely be reported on by various news organizations as the matter unfolds.
So will Epstein's dirty doings with police in Florida.
Epstein laundered his reputation through donations to higher education entities, including Ohio State University — which last week said it would take "action as appropriate" on more than $2.5 million Epstein and Epstein-related organizations provided.
In 2007, Epstein gave $47 million to a foundation run by the Ohio-based Wexner family, owners of the lingerie chain Victoria's Secret. That year, the foundation, along with another foundation created by Epstein, each gave $2.5 million to Ohio State; by way of gratitude for the $5 million, the school named a football complex after Wexner.
Wexner is widely reported to have been a client of Epstein's. Last week, Wexner told his company's employees that he was not aware of Epstein's alleged crimes.
In light of the renewed focus on the allegations against Epstein, the school said it would undertake a "complete review" of Epstein's history of giving, all the way back to a $1,000 donation to Ohio State in 1990. The school told the Miami Herald it had no further updates.
Only one institution got more dirty Epstein dough than Ohio State.
Harvard University. And every time they've been criticized for it, or there's been someone prominent suggesting they give the funds back or donate them towards sexual abuse survivorship, they say: nope.
Epstein, a college dropout, did not attend Harvard.
Epstein's connection to Harvard is reported to be Alan Dershowitz.
Again, from the Miami Herald:
His relationship with Harvard coincided with a longtime friendship with Alan Dershowitz, the famous attorney and emeritus professor of law.
Public filings from two of Epstein's charities show that he donated to Harvard regularly from 1998 until 2008, for a total of approximately $2.1 million. Roughly half went directly to the school. Over a quarter went to one of Harvard's governing boards, the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Epstein's charities also donated $50,000 to Harvard Hillel.
After his conviction, Epstein donated another $50,000 in 2016 to the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770, an irreverent Harvard social club and theater troupe. Hasty Pudding lists Jeffrey Epstein as a 2014 donor as well, although public charity filings do not include that donation.
Representatives for the troupe did not respond to a request for comment.
Epstein also continued to meet with Harvard staff even after he was convicted as a sex offender, as first reported by NBC. An online personal calendar from renowned geneticist George Church shows six scheduled meetings with Epstein in 2014.
Most of Epstein's reputational money laundering donations happened before the 2008 Alex Acosta Florida plea deal — the one that required Epstein to register as a sex offender. He kept on donating money after that sentence, but less of it.
The creepiest note of all in this new Miami Herald story is how starting in 1998, Epstein donated a total of $260,000 to Ballet Florida, a dance company and school based in his very own West Palm Beach, "with the express purpose that the funds be used on therapeutic massages for the dancers."
Turn off your adblocker and go read the entire article, it's great work.
Jeffrey Epstein doled out millions to Harvard and others. Is that cash tainted? [miamiherald.com ROB WILE AND AARON BREZEL]