They would almost certainly get returned, given that the former Democratic donor is a convicted sex offender and has recently been in the headlines for claims that he used underage girls as sex slaves, with Britain’s Prince Andrew named as a potential beneficiary.
So why did Gwendolyn Beck, a long-shot independent candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 8th District last year, receive what appears to be Epstein’s only political donations of 2014, totaling $12,600?
Beck — a Rosslyn resident who used to work in the financial industry — tells ARLnow.com she simply asked a number of billionaires in her Rolodex for donations, and Epstein was one of them.
“I did call every billionaire I know to ask for campaign funds, and Mr. Epstein sent the donations,” Beck said via email. “I haven’t spoken with him personally in years. During my years at Morgan Stanley (started in 1995), I managed a portion of his investment funds (about $65 million), and knew him personally. While the press has tagged him ‘a man of mystery’ because they can’t explain how he made his money, it’s mostly a combination of real estate and complex derivatives.”
Beck continued: “At the time, he had a girlfriend he was very close to, and was a hardworking, thoughtful man (he comes from a poor background and made a lot of money really fast). I think he went off the deep end when she left (I left Morgan Stanley by this time and had no relationship with them), and got involved in very bad behaviors which he’s sought therapy for and paid his time in jail.”
Beck, who ran on a platform of being “financially responsible, socially inclusive,” said her decision to accept the cash — given to her campaign and two PACs she controls — “is a question of forgiveness.”
“Did voters forgive Marion Berry, etc. – the list is long,” she said. “I am deeply opposed [to] and shocked by his behavior, but he has paid his debt to society. Although humanly flawed, he can be a great asset to our nation because he understands finance on a level most people can’t comprehend.”
Beck finished a distant third in the November general election, with 2.7 percent of the vote, to 31.7 percent for Republican Micah Edmond and 63 percent for the winner, Democrat Don Beyer. That’s despite other large donations to her campaign coffers from a number of other wealthy, notable people.
Richard Kramer, chairman of Republic Holdings, donated $7,600. Mort Zuckerman, billionaire owner of the New York Daily News and U.S. News and World Report, donated $2,600. George Albrecht, owner of a Boston-area car dealership chain, also donated $2,600.
Beck said they all supported her centrist message.
“They all believe in our Fiscally Responsible, Socially Inclusive message and that Congress needs at least one independent,” she said. “This bipartisan fighting needs to stop. Mort Zuckerman and Richard Kramer have interests in VA08, believe in our message, and think I should continue to get a voice for independents. Mr. Albrecht is a ‘like-minded’ wealthy family friend who was helping me.”
Career-wise, Beck was a sales manager for the now-defunct Eastern Airlines before transitioning to the financial industry in the 1990s, working for firms like Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley. A few years ago, she wrote a book, Flirting with Finance, which teaches finance through romantic stories. She was photographed attending a state dinner in 2010 with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), as The Smoking Gun pointed out yesterday.
Most recently, Beck said she has been volunteering in Arlington, studying for a master’s degree in gerontology from George Mason University and working as an analyst for an investment firm. As for future political plans, she said she was still contemplating her next move.
“Not sure at this point,” she said. “I do believe Congress needs more ‘centrist’ independents and that our country would be better served with their voices being heard.”
According to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project, Vihstadt enters the home stretch of the election with $89,058 in cash on hand after raising $42,908 last month. Howze has $22,800 in cash on hand after raising $36,847 last month.
Vihstadt’s biggest donation was a $5,000 gift from Arlington County firefighters, who gave him $2,500 during his special election campaign against Howze in April. That election, in which Vihstadt also outraised Howze, the Republican-endorsed independent became the first non-Democrat member of the County Board in more than a decade.
Outside of the firefighters group, all of Vihstadt’s receipts of $1,000 or more came from individuals in Arlington, except for $1,000 from Christopher Brigham in Fairfax.
Howze received just two donations of more than $1,000: $2,500 each from Jennifer Marie Bodie and the Reston-based “Laborers Mid Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition.” Several of Howze’s donations came from elected officials and their campaign war chests, including Walter Tejada, Del. Alfonso Lopez and state Sen. Barbara Favola.
In the race for the 8th Congressional District, Democrat Don Beyer raised almost $570,000, according to federal election filings, in the period from July 1 to Sept. 30, and has $168,468 in cash on hand. Beyer raised almost $400,000 for the Democratic primary in June, far outpacing his opponents.
Republican Micah Edmond raised $37,177 in the past quarter, and has $25,686 in cash on hand for the final month in his bid to upset Beyer, the heavy favorite.
In Virginia’s Senate race, incumbent Sen. Mark Warner (D) raised just over $2 million last month to enter the final month before the election with $8.1 million in cash on hand. Republican challenger Ed Gillespie’s raised $1.8 million in the last quarter.
‘Pups and Pilsners’ Photo Contest — Want to sample some brews and make your pet famous? Head on over to Crystal City’s Pups and Pilsners event from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, snap a photo of your pooch and tweet it to us and our sponsors, @CCBID and @BeckysPetCare. Pups and Pilsners is a free dog-friendly event featuring a massive beer garden and food from local restaurants. [Crystal City BID]
Planners: Bank Shortchanges Courthouse — The office building slated to replace the Wendy’s in Courthouse will have a Wells Fargo bank prominently located on the ground floor, and Arlington planners don’t like it. County staff says the bank use is “not appropriate” and should be at least moved so that a more active retail use can occupy half of the plaza area. Developer Carr Properties says the bank must stay, since Wells Fargo owns the land under the existing bank that will be torn down for the project. [Washington Business Journal]
Vihstadt Out-Raises Howze — Incumbent, independent County Board candidate John Vihstadt is out-raising his Democratic opponent, Alan Howze. Vihstadt raised $31,367 in July and August, compared to $20,607 raised by Howze. Vihstadt recently reported $58,746 cash on hand while Howze reported $16,906. [Washington Post]
Fugazi to Release ‘Lost Album’ — Fugazi is planing to release a “lost album” of 11 songs recorded in 1988. The legendary local rockers recorded the songs on the album, First Demo, at Inner Ear Studio in Arlington. [Spin]
Road Closures for Clarendon Art Fest — Parts of Washington Blvd, Clarendon Blvd, and N. Highland Street will be closed Saturday and Sunday for the 2nd Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts. “Over 100 artists will showcase their works including glass, mixed media, paintings, jewelry, and pottery; providing all sorts of opportunities to appreciate — and purchase — art,” according to the festival’s website. [Arlington County, ArtFestival]
Vihstadt Outraising Howze — County Board member John Vihstadt is outraising Democratic challenger Alan Howze ahead of the upcoming November election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has raised $33,773 to Howze’s $6,801. [InsideNova]
‘Revenge of the Understudies’ at Signature — They prepare for roles that they rarely get to actually play, at least in front of a paying audience. On Saturday, however, the understudies at Signature Theatre will take center stage for the annual “Revenge of the Understudies” cabaret. Tickets to either of the show’s two performances — at 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. — are $25. [Washington Post]
Ben’s Chili Bowl Opening at DCA — Ben’s Chili Bowl will be holding a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new Reagan National Airport location this morning. Bill Cosby won’t be there, but the Chuck Brown Band will be performing. The restaurant is located before the security checkpoints in the B/C terminal.
Entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey will attend a fundraiser in Arlington for congressional candidate Lavern Chatman (D) next month, Chatman’s campaign announced this morning.
Winfrey will headline Chatman’s fundraiser, which will be held somewhere in Arlington on Saturday, April 5, according to the campaign. The event will also “feature several prominent leaders speaking on women’s issues, globally, nationally, and in the 8th District of Virginia.”
“Oprah is a good friend and we both share a passion for empowering women and girls for leadership,” Chatman said in a statement. “I’m delighted she is coming to town to help with my congressional campaign.”
Chatman is the former President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League. She held her campaign kickoff event at Arlington’s Army Navy Country Club on Feb. 12.
So far, the Chatman campaign says it has raised $200,000 in the race to replace Rep. Jim Moran in Congress. The race includes nearly a dozen candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.
Photo courtesy Alan Light via Wikipedia
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.)
Arlington Democrats hosted the entire statewide Democratic ticket at their annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner Saturday night.
The party’s nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general give passionate campaign speeches. Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate, arrived late but closed the event with the keynote address, touching on the effects sequestration will continue to have on Virginia’s economy, noting Arlington’s place as a hub for defense jobs, in particular.
“The stakes have never been higher,” McAuliffe told the crowd of several hundred local political leaders and donors. “You want a governor who knows the ups and downs of business.”
Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Lieberman delivered the first speech of the event, held annually at the Westin in Ballston, chronicling the past 12 months in Arlington politics.
“We have had an amazing last year,” said Lieberman, who is in his final year as chair of the local party. “We went eight-for-eight in general elections on three different election days.”
The dinner — which cost $125 a plate for the general public and $250 for VIPs — is the organization’s biggest fundraising event. The Dems also raised money with a silent auction during the dinner.
Through June 30, McAuliffe has raised almost $12.7 million, compared to almost $7.7 million for his Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, according to the Federal Election Commission. Lieutenant governor candidate, state Sen. Ralph Northam, has raised more than $2 million compared to $390,683 raised by his GOP opponent, E.W. Jackson, and Attorney General candidate Sen. Mark Herring has raised $1.6 million to Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain’s $1.2 million.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) gave a fiery speech after Lieberman, lambasting the Republicans in the House of Representatives who he said have been obstructionists, hurting the country by blocking meaningful legislation.
“There’s always going to be people who want plunder villages for their own benefit,” Moran said.
Herring and Northam spoke in more tempered tones than Moran and McAuliffe, emphasizing their strongest issues — Herring on the social issues that have come to the fore in Cuccinelli’s tenure as Attorney General, Northam on the Chesapeake Bay and healthcare.
“I will be a bulwark against the radicalization of Mark Obenshain, E.W. Jackson and Ken Cuccinelli,” Herring said.
Monday afternoon, the Republican Party of Virginia issued a response to the Democrats’ speeches.
“It’s only fitting Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, and Mark Herring all landed on the ticket together, because they support higher taxes, more spending and burdensome regulations,” said Jahan Wilcox, spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia. “With liberals like McAuliffe, Northam and Herring wanting to usher in a new era of job-killing tax hikes, Ken Cuccinelli and the Republican Party are advocating pro-growth economic policies that will lower taxes and create jobs for Virginians.”
McAuliffe also spent time talking about the state’s transportation issues, commending Gov. Bob McDonnell on his work to pass the state’s new transportation bill. He railed against Virginia’s low pay of teachers, and promised to opt into the Medicaid expansion clause of the Affordable Care Act.
Concluding his remarks, McAuliffe said he plans to be the one to break the Virginia’s habit, since 1977, of electing a governor from the opposite party of the President of the United States.
“I have to stop a 40-year jinx,” he said. “Whoever wins the White House, the other party has won the governor’s race, but I’m going to break it.”
November is Here — Today is the first day of November. Thanksgiving is three weeks away and Christmas is just under eight weeks away.
Daycare Workers At Fort Myer Accused of Abuse – Three childcare workers at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall have been charged with assault after Army investigators, using surveillance cameras, observed them hitting, pushing and pinching young children, according to court documents. [WJLA]
Dems Set Fundraising Record — The Arlington County Democratic Committee has set a new fundraising record. ACDC raised more than $38,000 through its “Dollars for Democrats” campaign, compared to last year’s record haul of $21,258. [Sun Gazette]
Absentee Voting May Set Record — Arlington election officials are predicting a record number of absentee ballots cast in advance of the Nov. 6 general election. [Arlington Connection]
The event at the Pentagon City Ritz Carlton is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. with a VIP photo reception. Following that, several roundtable meetings will take place on topics central to Romney’s campaign, including tax reform policy and global competitiveness. There will be a general reception afterward.
The former Massachusetts governor’s event packs a hefty price tag. It’s $2,500 to attend just the general reception, and $10,000 to be a part of the photo reception. Those who want to join in the roundtable talks have to raise $10,000 in primary funds, $20,000 in general funds, or donate $10,000.
Photo via Wikimedia
Dems Hold County Board Caucus — A sizable crowd showed up at last night’s Democratic caucus at Washington-Lee High School. The Democratic blog Blue Virginia notes with some surprise that those who stood in line to vote for a County Board nominee appeared to be “overwhelmingly white and… older” — in contrast to the youth and diversity more often associated with the Democratic party. Those who didn’t vote last night will have a chance to do so on Saturday. [Blue Virginia]
Garvey Leads Fundraising Race — Democratic County Board candidate Libby Garvey is leading the fundraising race with $33,940 collected through Dec. 31, including a $5,000 personal loan and a $5,000 donation from Patsy Ticer’s Senate campaign fund. Melissa Bondi was next with $30,941 in receipts, followed by Kim Klingler, Terron Sims, Peter Fallon and Audrey Clement. [Washington Post]
McDonnell Endorses Romney — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, mentioned as a possible Republican vice presidential pick, endorsed Mitt Romney for president this morning. McDonnell said Romney was “a ‘results-oriented conservative’ who can appeal to Democrats and independents.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Arlington Little League Registration — Registration for Arlington Little League’s spring baseball season is now open. The league offers six levels of recreational baseball for boys and girls ages 4-12. The league also has teams for mentally and physically challenged players. Registration is open until March 4 with discounted fees available through Feb. 16. [Arlington Little League]
Free Coffee Today — 7-Eleven stores are offering a free medium coffee, any flavor, from 7:00 to 11:00 this morning. [Facebook]
Marshals Service Sheds Staff Cars — The free ride is over for dozens of employees at U.S. Marshals Service headquarters in Crystal City, the Wall Street Journal reports. The law enforcement agency is sending more than 100 take-home vehicles, including SUVs and high-powered sedans, from its headquarters to its field offices. Since the cars were law enforcement vehicles with emergency lights, they allowed Marshals Service employees to use HOV lanes on their commutes to work. Now, only about 30 headquarters employees will have that privilege. [Wall Street Journal]
Lackluster Fundraising for Arlington GOP — The Arlington County Republican Committee has been running a fiscal deficit since the beginning of the year. Even with the November election approaching, the organization was only able to raise $4 during the first 28 days of September. [Sun Gazette]
Grand Opening for Yoga Studio — The new Little River Yoga studio at 6025 Wilson Blvd will be celebrating its grand opening on Friday with a weekend of free classes, massages, and giveaways, according to owner Stair Calhoun. [Little River Yoga]
Following Areizaga-Soto’s criticism of Favola’s campaign contributors, and the recent release of new fundraising disclosures, Favola’s campaign went on the offensive today and attacked the source of the $160,000 in personal funds Areizaga-Soto loaned to his own campaign.
The Favola campaign issued the following press release this afternoon:
Jaime Areizaga-Soto and his supporters continue to attack Barbara Favola and her campaign contributors. As an elected official, Barbara has always been 100% transparent with her voting record, expenses, campaign contributions and expenditures. Today, the Favola campaign is asking Mr. Areizaga-Soto to meet that same standard.
“Jaime is self-funding his campaign with an unprecedented amount of personal money. He calls himself a ‘self-made man’ and we respect that.” said Adam Scott Favola’s Campaign Manager,” But we also think voters have a right to know how he made himself.”
According to his resume, Jaime Areizaga-Soto worked for some of the world’s largest corporate law firms and “major international corporations.” His resume also says he was “lead attorney” for development projects involving “gas-fired power plants, electricity turbines, toll-roads, oil and gas pipelines, electricity transmission lines and refineries.”
“The international developers and corporations, where Jaime made himself, prioritize profits over people and Barbara Favola has never done that.” Adam Scott.
Areizaga-Soto, meanwhile, responded by telling ARLnow.com that the money he loaned to his campaign was the result of hard work and diligent savings.
“My opponent has the advantage of $25,000 checks from developers she green-lit for multi-million dollar projects, as well as thousands of dollars from a funder that has given over $175,000 to right-wing republicans like Ken Cuccinelli,” he said in a brief emailed statement. “I’ve worked hard all my life and saved diligently. I’m grateful to have the ability and honored to make the investment in the opportunity to serve in the Virginia Senate.”