NEW YORK—A former high-ranking NXIVM member confirmed the group had taken part in an illegal campaign contribution scheme to benefit the Clintons, during his second day of testimony on May 13.
Born in South Africa and with a background in filmmaking, former member Mark Vicente, who later served on the group’s executive board, continued to divulge the inner workings of the umbrella organization, telling the court that the purported self-help organization led by Keith Raniere wanted to “curry favor with the Clintons.”
Vicente said the scheme was a “quiet, fraudulent attempt to make a campaign contribution to the Clintons, I think for the presidential race.” He added that the group had always had a “strong desire” to meet with those in politics.
In testimony under oath, Vicente described how Clare Bronfman, an heiress of the Seagram beverage company and an “acting CFO” of sorts in NXIVM, approached him and asked if he could make a donation to a political campaign that would be paid back and range between $2,000 to $3,000. The individual donation limit was somewhere in between these figures, Vicente explained.
“Bronfman came to myself … asked me to write a check to the campaign,” Vicente said. “Bronfman [then] paid me back.”
Vicente had trouble recollecting in which year the campaign donations were made, only stating that he thought it was “prior to 2010.” But the prosecution reminded him that Hillary Clinton ran her first presidential campaign in 2008, which Vicente acknowledged. Vicente also confirmed that other members were involved in the illegal bundling scheme as well.
Court documents stated that NXIVM members took part in the illegal scheme to “exceed contribution limits” and gain “political influence.” The documents also said that Nancy Salzman, the group’s president, was involved. Bronfman herself donated to Clinton’s campaign on three occasions between 2007 and 2008, according to records from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit.
“Witness testimony, corroborated by documentary evidence, will demonstrate that at least 14 members of the NXIVM community, including at least five defendants and co-conspirators, made the maximum campaign donation to a primary campaign with the understanding that they would be reimbursed by Bronfman or Nancy Salzman,” the filing stated.
The contributions were presented to the candidate at a fundraising event attended by conspirators, including Salzman, prosecutors said. Aside from currying influence to “advance their own agenda,” the group also wanted to target perceived enemies of Raniere.
Raniere, 58, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for seven criminal counts, including sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and racketeering. He sat at the top of every pyramid scheme under the expansive umbrella organization of NXIVM and is also accused of having sexual “slaves” as part of an internal secret society called DOS.
The other five co-defendants in the U.S. v. Raniere et al. case, which includes Bronfman, have all pleaded guilty; some pleas came after prosecutors added child exploitation charges against Raniere based on evidence he had sex with a 15-year-old girl.
NXIVM ex-publicist and whistleblower Frank Parlato told The Epoch Times in a phone interview on May 13 that he found out about the donations scheme after it had happened. He noted that he wasn’t a participant.
“There were about 14 to 15 members who were asked to write a check for the maximum amount that could be donated for Hillary Clinton’s primary presidential campaign,” he said. “They all wrote the check with the understanding that Clare would reimburse them, which she did.”
During Vicente’s testimony, the former member said that, in total, about $30,000 was donated by NXIVM members to the campaign. Parlato believes the amount to be higher, at $60,000.
On its website, NXIVM calls itself “a community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human.” But members described a pattern of manipulation, blackmail, humiliation, and outright deception during testimonies in the first week of the trial, which is expected to be around six weeks long.
The Epoch Times requested a comment from Clinton via the Clinton foundation, but didn’t receive a response by press time.