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.”
This month, we asked the candidates from each competitive race on the ballot on Election Day to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them on Nov. 4.
Here is Independent candidate for the 8th Congressional District Gwendolyn Beck’s unedited response:
If you disapprove of Congress, vote for me, Gwendolyn Beck. There are no Independents in the U.S. House of Representatives, and this is the only way to break the dysfunctional gridlock of the two-party system. I am only beholden to you!
I am fiscally responsible, socially inclusive and believe we need a strong national defense. Fiscally responsible means knowing our economic and social policies affect our future and determine our individual and cultural prosperity. We have plenty of money, we just don’t always use it in the right way. Socially inclusive means that everyone matters and should be treated with respect. I will continue to fight for women’s rights, especially our right to choose what is best for our own bodies and for pay equality. I will fight for marriage equality and acceptance of the joy in loving whomever you choose. And, we need a strong defense to ensure we influence the world, rather than the world influencing us.
Running a country as large as the United States of America is complex and it takes many people to successfully accomplish not only defining goals, but putting them into action in a way the makes sense to all of our citizens. As everyone agrees, Congress is broken. We can’t go on like this, and the only way I see to build badly needed coalitions is to not be beholden to one of the two very powerful political parties. If you vote for a Democrat or Republican, no matter how good their resume looks, the dysfunction and gridlock will continue.
Badly needed coalitions can be built, and my campaign has already accomplished this goal as we are made up of disappointed Democrats, moderate Republicans and “middle minded” Independents working together and working hard to achieve our main goal: doing what is right for America.
I strongly believe we need to stop trying balance our budget on the backs of our students, federal workers, military, especially the retirees as a “Promise is a Promise” and pensions should be sacred. We need to focus on solutions to our environment that are cutting-edge, like Fuel Cell Vehicles that have zero emissions and energy storage solutions to enable solar and wind power to flourish [my Democrat opponent says we should tax carbon (to my relief he’ll add “emissions” once in a while), but this is an old concept and only the beginning of fixing the problems our planet faces]. We need to fix the Affordable Care Act, immigration, and the tax code. We need to create quality jobs and ensure an excellent education is available to our youth.
As a business woman, I have had two successful careers, one in the financial industry and one in tourism. I rose to Manager of National Sales at Eastern Airlines, and when they ceased operations, moved into Finance in U.S. Government Debt — I understand how our debt works. I’ve written a consumer financial education book and appeared on PBS and Lifetime. I volunteer for the Arlington Agency on Aging, am on the Board of Directors for “Ladies America” and “We Will Survive Cancer.” Our congressional campaign color is “hot pink” to promote cancer awareness. I am a first-generation American on my mother’s side, and about fifth-generation American on my father’s side.
I want you to vote for me because you agree a we don’t have to continue on this downward spiral. I want you to vote for me because you agree America can be a better place. And, I want you to vote for me because there is no other way to accomplish change than to send an Independent to the U.S. House of Representatives. Money doesn’t vote: people vote! Virginia, please take a chance on me.