ASU took more money from Epstein than previously reported




    Epstein Origins Project
    Left to Right: Jeffery Epstein, Lawrence Krauss, Steven Pinker. A photo originally posted on the Jeffery Epstein VI Foundation Facebook Page of the ASU Origins Project 5-year anniversary dinner in 2014. Photo via @c0nc0rdance | Twitter

    Arizona State University claimed last month to have received $250,000 from alleged sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, but a new report details additional donations to the school totalling more than $2 million. 

    BuzzFeed News reported that the donations were made to the Origins Project, which was headed by former ASU Professor Lawrence Krauss, who retired after a BuzzFeed story last year revealed allegations of sexual harassment

    Origins Project was ultimately shuttered after the allegations were brought to the public eye, and has since been transformed into the ASU Interplanetary Initiative

    After Epstein, a billionaire who pleaded guilty in the mid-2000s to sex crimes involving underage girls, was arrested by federal authorities in July, The Arizona Republic reported that Origins Project had received $250,000 from Epstein’s Enhanced Education foundation.

    But BuzzFeed News found additional funds linked to associates of Epstein, Leon Black and his wife, Debra. 

    Black, an investor, has publicly disputed his connections to Epstein. Black had helped Epstein with his foundations and had even appointed Epstein as a director of one of his charities

    BuzzFeed News found in an accounting record, which was also provided to the Arizona Mirror by an anonymous source, that a donation from Epstein listed his employer as Enhanced Education – a nonprofit he created – and his supervisor as Leon Black. 

    Those same records showed that $2 million in personal gifts to the Origins Project were made between 2014 and 2015 from Leon Black and his wife. 

    ASU told BuzzFeed that, after Origins Project was shut down in 2018, it returned $25,000 to Enhanced Education and $460,000 to the Blacks at their request. 

    “Therefore, we believe we have been successful in closing all connections to Epstein and his affiliated entities,” ASU spokeswoman Katie Paquet told BuzzFeed News by email.

    The BuzzFeed story also details a contentious interaction between Epstein and participants at an Origins Project event. 

    During a workshop in February 2017, Epstein appeared alongside two young “East European-looking women,” Shahar Avin, a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, told BuzzFeed News. 

    Krauss allegedly introduced Epstein as “my friend Jeffrey.” 

    Epstein sat at a table where participants were eating prior to a workshop on the complicated issues of artificial intelligence when he continued to ask a small group of scientists “abrasive questions.” 

    This was not the first time Epstein was seen at a Krauss event. 

    Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker and Krauss were photographed alongside Epstein at a 5-year anniversary gala for Origins Project in 2014. 

    Pinker, who has since claimed that he was only just photographed alongside Epstein, was found to have offered legal advice to Epstein in 2007 when he was arguing against charges of coercion and enticement. 

    Krauss did not respond to BuzzFeed’s request for comment. 

    Krauss relaunched the Origins Project as an independent foundation, taking some of the key members with it and when asked by BuzzFeed if the new foundation had taken any money from Epstein they stated they had not. 

    It has also been reported that Epstein gave $50,000 to the University of Arizona.

    Earlier this month, Epstein died by suicide in a federal jail in New York.

    Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
    Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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