Stacey Plaskett, the delegate to the U.S House of Representatives from the Virgin Islands, is unlikely to return the thousands of dollars donated to her campaign by Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire sex offender recently arrested for child sex trafficking.
Plaskett, a Democrat, has served as the island territory’s representative to Congress since first being elected in 2014. Throughout her tenure, Plaskett has received $8,100 from Epstein, who owns his own private island in the Virgin Islands territory called Little Saint James. The majority of the money, $5,400, was donated during Plaskett’s 2016 reelection campaign when she faced a strong primary opponent. Epstein’s latest donation of $2,700 — the maximum contribution allowed at the time under FEC guidelines — was during the 2018 campaign cycle.
The donations are the largest Epstein has given to any political candidate since having pled guilty in the state of Florida to one charge of soliciting and procuring prostitution from an individual under 18 years of age.
Plaskett’s office told CNBC on Monday the congresswoman was “unlikely to return the contribution.”
“I’m pretty sure she’s not,” Mike McQueery, a spokesman for the congresswoman, said. According to CNBC’s report, McQueery “declined to comment further” about Epstein’s legal problems or how Plaskett knew the billionaire sex offender.
On Saturday, Epstein was arrested in New Jersey on one count of sex trafficking and a separate count of conspiracy. On Monday, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York officially charged the billionaire with exploiting “dozens” of underage girls in New York, Florida, and the Virgin Islands, among other locations.
Federal prosecutors allege Epstein gave his victims “hundreds of dollars in cash” to engage in sexual acts. Epstein is reported to have relied on a wide circle of friends, associates and even former victims to find other underage girls for him to abuse. A number of the victims were trafficked between Epstein’s properties in the coastal United States and the Virgin Islands. The incidents were purported to have taken place between 2002 and 2005.
Prior to his 2008 conviction, Epstein was an influential political donor, noted for his support of Democrat candidates and causes. From 1989 to 2003, he donated more than $139,000 to Democrats running for federal office, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.