Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gary King said Tuesday he will return the $35,600 he received from companies associated with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“My campaign has had an ongoing rule that I would not accept any contributions directly from Mr. Epstein and upon further review, we have learned that he has an interest in the companies in question. Unfortunately my fundraising staff missed this in the vetting process,” King said in a statement emailed to reporters. “I believe the right thing to do is to return the contributions from all companies in which Mr. Epstein has an interest. This will be done immediately.”
King’s Republican opponent, incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez, took a swipe at King on Tuesday when asked about the Epstein contributions.
Referring to Epstein as King’s “largest donor,” Martinez said, “I certainly think you would know where your money comes from. … and it just so happens to be a sex offender.”
The Epstein connection to the contributions came to light Monday after The New Mexican checked the address found on several contributions to King from companies in the U.S. Virgin Islands — 6100 Red Hook Quarter B3, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
The address matched Epstein’s, which is on the New York state sex offender registry.
Epstein, when registering his Zorro Development Corp. with the state of New Mexico, included that same Virgin Islands address as one of four addresses. The other three addresses on that document are an office in downtown Santa Fe, an office in New York City and Epstein’s Zorro Ranch near Stanley.
Zorro Development is not among the five companies with the same address listed on the financial report King’s campaign filed Monday, plus a sixth listed on a report filed earlier this summer.
Four of the contributions were dated July 7. Two others were dated Sept. 1. One of the companies gave two contributions, one for $5,000 and one for $5,200.
King did not explain why several contributions from the same address in the Virgin Islands did not raise flags.
In 2006, King returned $15,000 in Epstein contributions after Epstein’s arrest in Florida for soliciting sex from girls as young as 14. Epstein later was convicted and served more than a year in prison.
Epstein owns land he bought from King’s family to build a large home near Stanley.
Epstein’s plea deal in Florida has come under criticism from women who say they were among his victims. A federal appeals court ruled earlier this year that two women are entitled to see documents from the plea bargain talks between federal prosecutors and Epstein’s lawyers.
The women’s lawyers contend Epstein received special treatment, but his attorneys have denied that.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.