A former member of NXIVM testified on Monday that members of the alleged cult tried to buy power and influence by currying favor with politicians and making illegal campaign contributions to the Clintons.
Mark Vicente, a documentary filmmaker and former high-ranking member of the group, testified at the trial of NXIVM head Keith Raniere that Clare Bronfman, the billionaire Seagram’s heiress and alleged benefactor of the organization, approached him and a few other members of the group to help her make a contribution to a Clinton campaign. Bronfman, the youngest daughter of Seagram’s billionaire Edgar Bronfman, Jr., pleaded guilty in April to one count of credit card fraud and harboring someone in the U.S. illegally for unpaid labor and services.
Because the donation couldn’t be “above a certain amount,” Vicente testified, Bronfman asked him to make the donation in her stead, so she could reimburse him for it later. (At the time, individual campaign contributions had a cap of $2,300.) He said he wrote a check for between $2,000 and $3,000, for which Bronfman later reimbursed him. It is illegal for straw donors to make campaign contributions that exceed the maximum amount.
Although Vicente initially could not recall which political campaign it was or which Clinton it was for, he confirmed it was likely Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run after prosecutor Mark Lesko reminded him that she ran that year. Vicente said there was a “quiet fundraising attempt” within the group for the Clintons, estimating that the total amount of campaign funds given to the Clinton campaign from NXIVM was “$30,000-something.” (NXIVM donated about $29,900 in March and April 2007 for the 2008 election, according to a story from the New York Post.)
This was not the first time that NXIM members had forayed into the political sphere. Vicente testified that “there was a strong desire to connect with people in politics.” In addition to the “attempts to curry favor with the Clintons,” as Vicente put it, group cofounder Nancy Salzman had a relationship with New York Republican State Senator and former Senate Majority leader Joe Bruno.
Bronfman, the youngest daughter of Seagram’s billionaire Edgar Bronfman Jr., pleaded guilty in April to one count of credit card fraud and harboring someone in the U.S. illegally for unpaid labor and services.