Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Billionaire Donor In Palm Beach Sex Scandal

Jeffrey Epstein a Billionaire with a 27,000-square-foot hilltop mansion on a 10,000-acre ranch outside Santa Fe has been indicted for felony solicitation of prostitution by a grand jury following accusations by teen girls. Many believed his home in Stanley to be the largest home in the state. Beginning in mid-March 2005, Epstein became the target of a sexual battery probe conducted by the Palm Beach Police Department, according to the affidavit, which alleges that Epstein, 53, paid a series of underage girls to engage in sexual activity with him.

Mr. Epstein is a donor to many democratic candidates across the nation and was considered an upstanding citizen. He has helped such candidates as John Kerry's presidential bid, the Senate bids of Joe Lieberman, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Christopher Dodd and Charles Schumer, and Bill Clinton. In New Mexico he has donated money to many statewide candidates such as Gary King, the reelection campaign of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and many other local politicians, Including my 2006 Primary Election Campaign. Most of these donations were in the $100,000 dollar range.

I am not sure if I ever met Mr. Epstein, I may have met him at one of many political or charitable functions I attend. I had heard of him and his large home in Stanley New Mexico. In August of 2005 I received a $2000 check in the mail from Mr. Epstein. I knew he lived in Stanley, one of the rural areas of the county where we provide almost exclusive police protection, with some occasional assistance from the state Police. So when I received the check I thought it was just a nice donation from someone who appreciated our services. I received several such checks in the mail although most were in the $100 to $500 range. In 2005 there was no such allegations and Mr. Epstein was still well respected. I learned of the indictment in late July of 2006 when I read about it on The Smoking Gun Website. I was very disappointed and it bothered me greatly that even though someone is innocent until proven guilty, I would never have accepted the donation if I had known the allegations.

Steve Terrell, political reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican called me tonight to get my comments on the indictment. He asked me whether I would be returning the money he donated to my campaign. I received the $2000 donation in August of 2005 and used it for the June 2006 Primary Campaign. I completed the June Primary having spent all donations and actually ending the campaign over $2000 in debt. That debt means that the remaining money was paid out of my pocket. So the short answer is there is nothing left to return. It is now nearly a year since I recieved the donation and the campaign for Sheriff is over and done. As I have no Republican opponent I will not have to wage a General Election Campaign. I did not plan on any further fundraising although some who read in my campaign reports that I had ended with a debt offered to raise some additional money to clear the debt. If I did have the money I probably would return it or give it to a charity as the $2000, returned to Mr. Epstein who is a billionaire would probably not mean much to him.

Running for office and gathering donations to run a campaign is one of the hardest parts of public service. My opponent and myself each spent about $30,000 on the primary Sheriff's campaign. Other offices easily spend a million dollars or more in today's day and age. Publicly financed campaigns would remove this burden and perhaps remove the accusations that this money buys influence. In my case that would be a lot of money to just try and get out of a speeding ticket or buy influence in the few areas where I could really do anything. Of course I would never let donations influence my decisions.

So all I can do now is trust that the public will believe in me still and understand that there is no way when a donation like Mr. Epstein is received that you could ever know that something like this indictment could come a year or two later.

No comments: