UJA-Federation, one of the largest Jewish charities in the country, and one of the largest locally focused charities on the planet, has not responded to questions about a $50,000 donation it received from a charity controlled by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The Forward first reported on Epstein’s UJA donation last Friday. Since then, several calls and emails to multiple UJA public relations employees have gone unreturned.
Epstein, a financier with a bevy of powerful friends like Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, pleaded guilty in 2008 to a prostitution charge and was required to register as a sex offender for life. In the past few years, however, he reinserted himself into high society, attending parties with the likes of Jeff Bezos and George Stephanopoulos. The New York Times reported that Epstein’s press releases announcing charitable donations helped ease his acceptance back into famous figures’ good graces.
Tax records from Epstein’s charity Gratitude America Ltd. show that he made the five-figure donation in 2017 — nine years after he registered as a sex offender. That year, he also made similar or larger contributions to cancer research charities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the personal foundation of guru Deepak Chopra, among others. (Some organizations that were listed as recipients of Epstein’s recent charity claimed to NBC News last week that they never actually received any donations from him.)
Epstein’s name is not listed on Gratitude America’s tax records, but the Daily Beast reported in April that he controlled the charity and its donations, including to UJA.
Epstein was arrested last week and charged with sex trafficking. He was denied bail on Thursday.
UJA is one of the biggest Jewish organizations in America, conducting programming and providing grants to groups in New York, Israel and around the world. It reported revenue of $223 million in 2016, the most recent year tax records are available.
This is not the first Jewish charity with ties to Epstein: In the 1990s and early 2000s, he served as a trustee of the Wexner Foundation, which has given tens of millions of dollars to Jewish causes. Les Wexner, the foundation’s benefactor, is Epstein’s only known financial client, and Epstein’s attorney Darren Indyke served as the secretary of the board of both the Wexner Foundation and Gratitude America.
Both Les Wexner and the Wexner Foundation say they cut ties with Epstein more than a decade ago. Foundation president Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson said in a statement last week that they were “sickened by Mr. Epstein’s behavior.”
Do you know anything about the donation Gratitude America made to UJA-Federation? Contact Aiden Pink at firstname.lastname@example.org