House Democrat Worked for Epstein's Tax and Political Fixer
Court filings reveal that the Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., misled the public about her deep ties to the powerful pedophile.
Democratic Del. Stacey Plaskett, a representative of the U.S. Virgin Islands in Congress, has distanced herself from convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, claiming she was completely “unaware” of his donations. However, recent court filings shed light on a much closer relationship between Plaskett and Epstein than previously known.
The unsealed documents outline a decade-long association involving direct solicitations for money, personal meetings, and employment at a law firm deeply connected to Epstein's shadowy network.
Plaskett not only repeatedly sought financial contributions from Epstein and had multiple face-to-face encounters with him, but she also worked directly for a St. Thomas-based law firm that played a role in cultivating influence for Epstein's clandestine activities.
In a deposition last month, Plaskett disclosed that she was introduced to Epstein by Erika Kellerhals, an attorney who lobbied on his behalf and represented his business and philanthropic ventures. Kellerhals's significance goes beyond a casual connection. Before Plaskett's congressional tenure, she worked at Kellerhals Ferguson Kroblin PLLC, the boutique tax firm in the Virgin Islands from 2013 to 2014, a period in which Epstein was a major client.
Plaskett's involvement with Epstein may extend further back, as she previously served as counsel on the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (EDA), which granted Epstein $300 million in allegedly improperly obtained tax exemptions over the course of two decades.
Asked during her deposition if she worked for Epstein or any Epstein-linked businesses while serving at the Kellerhals law firm, which specializes in EDA assistance, Plasket responded, “I don’t recall.”
The two years during which she worked for Epstein’s lawyer are notably missing from Plaskett’s LinkedIn account, with a two-year gap between 2012 and when she entered Congress in 2015.
Emails and testimony, however, closely link Plaskett’s rapid political rise with Epstein’s deep pockets.
In 2014, Cecil de Jongh, a close aide to Epstein, advised him to support Plaskett in her bid for Congress against local legislator Shawn-Michael Malone. “Shawn is the one who came after you in the senate hearing last week. He is nasty and needs to be defeated and we have a friend in Stacey,” wrote de Jongh.
During the election, Epstein aides, including Darren Indyke, Lesley Groff, and Kellerhals donated heavily to Plaskett, helping her overcome Malone by a mere 737 votes in what local press called "one of the biggest upsets in Virgin Island politics." That year, de Jongh wrote to Epstein to confirm that a $13,000 corporate donation planned for the Democratic Party would be made “for the benefit of Stacey Plaskett.”
Plaskett courted more financial support, and met with the convicted sex offender at his office in St. Thomas, according to the testimony. Epstein donated the maximum amount, $5,400, to Plaskett in 2016, and donated again in 2018.
“If you would share this invitation with Jeffrey I’d be much appreciative,” wrote Plaskett on July 12, 2018, over email to Kellerhals and Lesley Groff, beckoning the financier to a New York City fundraiser with Michael Bloomberg. Groff was Epstein’s personal assistant, who has been accused of helping Epstein recruit underage girls.
“I would be grateful for his support and the support of those that he may direct to assist me," Plaskett continued, in an email that was subsequently forwarded to Epstein.
Less than two weeks after the exchange, Epstein wrote a $2,700 check to Plaskett. Later that year, Yolonda Addison, then a Plaskett consultant who now serves as executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, continued to write to Epstein, requesting his support at several Plaskett campaign fundraising events.
During her deposition, Plaskett revealed that she had also traveled to Epstein’s Upper East Side residency in the fall of 2018 for another fundraising venture. She answered, “I don’t know,” to most questions about the meeting, but described some details of her memories from the visit. "Someone opening the door, coming into a large foyer area, meeting Lesley Groff, telling me that he would be with me," recalled Plaskett in her testimony.
The meeting provided an opportunity for Plaskett to request $30,000 from Epstein for the DCCC, the campaign arm of House Democrats. Following the meeting, Plaskett conferred with her staff for a follow-up email for Kellerhals to pass along a fundraising appeal to Epstein.
The DCCC, however, refused the donation from Epstein, given his well-known record at the time of trafficking young women.
The court case that revealed much of this information is the lawsuit between J.P. Morgan Chase and the Virgin Islands government. In a filing last month, the bank's lawyers accused the Virgin Islands government of facilitating Epstein's criminal enterprise.
The records submitted to federal court suggest Kellerhals, Plaskett’s former employer, was at the center of a sprawling influence network designed to keep Epstein’s tax liabilities low and his political influence high.
The Financial Trust Company, Epstein’s primary business enterprise, listed Kellerhals as its primary contact, while she and other Epstein associates pressed the Virgin Islands government for lucrative tax exemptions, including an exemption on gross receipts, business property, and excise taxes.
Several charities founded by Epstein were also registered or maintained by Kellerhals, including Gratitude America, Ltd., which he used to funnel money to his elite allies and buy influence. Kellerhals also handled a 2011 deed transfer that gave Epstein full ownership of the opulent home in Manhattan once owned by Les Wexner – the same home where Plaskett met Epstein to solicit a DCCC donation. Epstein is accused of using the building, a sprawling seven-story residency, to molest underage girls. In 2016, Kellerhals assisted Epstein with purchasing Great St. James Island, adding another island to his primary residence in Little St. James Island, at which he is accused of trafficking and raping women and young girls.
The tax attorney continued her services for the notorious financier up until his death. In 2019, Kellerhals pressured the Virgin Islands government to waive travel rules for Epstein, who faced special reporting requirements as a sex offender. Later that year, Epstein was arrested for federal sex trafficking charges. Kellerhals filed an updated will from Epstein, signed just two days before he was found dead in his prison cell. Her law firm continues to represent his estate.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of Plaskett’s ties to the financier, the congresswoman has attempted to downplay her relationship with Epstein.
Earlier this month, during an appearance on WTJX-FM radio, on the "Analyze This" program, host Neville James asked Plaskett about her deposition.
"Epstein was a reprehensible person and I'm truly disgusted by his actions," Plaskett replied. "I regret accepting that campaign contribution, but at the time I was unaware that my campaign had received it."
“At the time I first received his contribution,” she claimed, “I was actually unaware that my campaign had received it and I was alerted by the media with my campaign’s federal filing.”
Those claims are flatly false or misleading, given the court records showing Plaskett’s repeated direct appeals for Epstein’s donations to her campaign and to the DCCC.
During the interview, Plaskett further claimed she is the “only person who received [Epstein] donations who has given money back” to charitable organizations.
That is also false. Several Virgin Island state legislators, including Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory, donated Epstein funds to local charities. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also donated $7,000 he received from Epstein to charity.
It remains unclear if Plaskett has fully divested herself of funds associated with Epstein. Initially reluctant to relinquish the $8,100 in direct donations, she eventually donated the money to charity. However, during her deposition, Plaskett admitted that Epstein and his associates funneled over $30,000 to her campaigns, significantly more than she donated to charity.
Plaskett, in recent years, has become a familiar voice on MSNBC, known for her bombastic partisan rhetoric and demands for ethics probes into her political opponents. Earlier this year, she sent a letter, first reported on this Substack, threatening to imprison journalist Matt Taibbi over a baseless charge of perjury.
I sent an inquiry to Plaskett’s office about the discrepancies in her claims about the relationship with Epstein and whether she will donate the money from his associates to charity. I did not receive a response.
Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., in the Rayburn House Office Building on Monday, August 24, 2020, via Getty Images.