How Jeffrey Epstein Helped a Rising Democratic Star Pull Off a Political Upset

Democrat Stacey Plaskett says she didn't solicit Epstein for donations. Emails tell a different story.

Jeffrey Epstein and Virgin Islands delegate Stacey Plaskett (D.)
June 22, 2023

Democratic congresswoman Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands won her election in 2014 in one of the "biggest upsets" in the political history of her district. But Plaskett, now hailed as a rising star in the Democratic Party, may owe her surprise win in no small part to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, newly released emails show.

Plaskett met Epstein numerous times after her entry into politics in 2014, visting Epstein's office in the Virgin Islands and his New York City townhouse, she said in a deposition last month. The meetings occurred years after Epstein's conviction on child sex crimes was publicly known, but Plaskett nonetheless met the registered sex offender to solicit campaign donations for herself and Democratic committees. Though she has denied knowing Epstein contributed to her campaign, emails revealed in court documents show her directing a fundraising consultant to ensure Epstein is invited to her fundraiser. "I would be grateful for his support," Plaskett wrote in the July 2018 email.

Details of the relationship are revealed in court documents released as part of a lawsuit the government of the Virgin Islands filed against JPMorgan, where Epstein banked for years. Emails released in the case show that Epstein jumped at a request in 2014 to help Plaskett in her underdog campaign.

The revelations place a dark cloud over Plaskett's surprising ascent in the Democratic Party ranks. Though Plaskett does not hold voting power, she has landed cushy assignments in Washington: a managerial spot on the second Donald Trump impeachment, a seat on the House Intelligence Committee, and the top Democratic position on the high-profile Weaponization of Government Subcommittee.

Liberals have cheered Plaskett's bare-knuckle tactics during Weaponization Subcommittee hearings, though she has come under fire for threatening jail time for journalist Matt Taibbi, whom Plaskett falsely accused of perjury during a hearing on censorship in April.

Epstein first helped Plaskett's campaign at the request of former Virgin Islands first lady Cecile de Jongh, according to emails.

"Your help is needed. We are trying to get Stacey Plaskett elected to Congress," de Jongh wrote in a June 19, 2014, email to Epstein, who owned a compound in the Virgin Islands dubbed "Pedophile Island."

De Jongh, who also worked as Epstein's office manager, noted that Plaskett's strongest primary challenger, then-Virgin Islands legislator Shawn-Michael Malone, had criticized Epstein's sexual exploits at a Senate hearing a week earlier.

"He is nasty and needs to be defeated," de Jongh wrote of Malone, adding that "we would have a friend in Stacey."

She asked Epstein to donate to help Plaskett reach a goal of $75,000 to win the election. Epstein told de Jongh that several of his employees would contribute to Plaskett. And they did to the tune of $10,400, according to campaign finance records. Plaskett went on to prevail over Malone in what newspapers called "one of the biggest upsets" the territory had seen.

Plaskett defeated Malone by just 737 votes in a low-turnout primary, indicating the boost from Epstein could have made a significant difference in the race.

Plaskett maintained ties to Epstein long after her victory, even as public scrutiny mounted over the disgraced financier's sex crimes. Epstein continued to support Plaskett's campaigns through late 2018, months before he was arrested on federal child sex trafficking charges.

In a deposition conducted on May 9, Plaskett said she spoke to Epstein numerous times on the phone and visited him at his Manhattan townhouse in September 2018 to discuss political donations. Specifically, Plaskett asked Epstein to contribute $30,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Plaskett acknowledged in her deposition that she was aware of Epstein's reputation and that she "could have" known by the time they met in New York that Epstein took young women to his Virgin Islands getaway.

Plaskett recently addressed her courtship with Epstein, but denied knowing that he had contributed directly to her campaign.

She told a Virgin Islands radio station this month that "Epstein was a reprehensible person" and that she was "truly disgusted by his actions."

"I regret accepting that campaign contribution, but at the time I was unaware that my campaign had received it," she insisted.

But campaign records and the new batch of emails call that claim into question. Epstein contributed to Plaskett's campaigns in 2016 and 2018. And in July 2018, she asked a consultant to invite Epstein to a fundraiser she planned in New York.

"If you would share this invitation with Jeffrey I'd be much appreciative. I would be grateful for his support and the support of those that he may direct to assist me," Plaskett wrote in a July 12, 2018, email to Epstein associate Lesley Groff.

Epstein instructed Groff to "get maximum [amount]." He and two of his employees, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, contributed maximum donations of $2,700 to Plaskett's campaign on July 23, 2018, campaign records show.

Epstein was dead months after his last known encounter with Plaskett. He committed suicide in a jail cell as he awaited trial.

Plaskett's office did not respond to a request for comment.