Court documents revealed this week confirmed that the father of 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand once worked as a lobbyist for a secretive sex cult, but left after the upstate New York group sued him, according to a report.
The documents backed up previous accounts that the New York Democrat's father, Doug Rutnik, worked for Albany-based Nxivm for four months in 2004 at a rate of $25,000 per month, Big League Politics reported.
Rutnik was sued when he attempted to distance himself from the group before reaching a settlement.
“Her father Doug Rutnik came to work as a consultant for NXIVM. ... He was fired, they sued him, and they had to pay him $100,000,” former NXIVM employee Frank Parlato told Big League Politics. “Her father’s wife, her stepmother, was also a member of NXIVM. ... Doug got her into the cult, Gillibrand’s father got Gillibrand’s future stepmother into the cult. Doug left the cult because he was sued. Clare Bronfman, after her father was sued, donated money to Gillibrand. Gillibrand accepted it.”
An unnamed witness described how Gillibrand once sat at a Nxivm table at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser, according to the political news site.
“Yeah the three front VIP tables were all brought by NXIVM and she was sitting with Nancy Salzman,” court documents said, referring to the former Nxivm co-founder who pleaded guilty in March to a single racketeering charge.
Gillibrand has sometimes been called a #MeToo champion for her advocacy on gender equality and women’s issues. She has denied having a connection to Nxivm and said she first heard of it through extensive media coverage.
"Senator Gillibrand had never heard of this group until she recently read about them in the newspaper," a spokesman for Gillibrand told the Washington Free Beacon in March 2018. "She is glad that federal and state prosecutors have taken action in this case."
The group and its leader Keith Raniere, known as Vanguard, have been accused by former members of forcing women to become sex slaves and branding women like cattle with Raniere’s initials. Some women said they were forced to hand over nude photos of themselves in case they disobeyed him and were forced to perform manual labor, according to the Post.
Other former members have described Nxivm as a “cult” centered around Raniere. Salzman admitted to a federal judge to spying on Nxivm’s perceived enemies and hacking into email accounts.
Her daughter Laura Salzman, 42, also entered a guilty plea last month to keeping her own personal female slave locked in a room for two years and threatening to deport her back to Mexico, court transcripts said.
Raniere was arrested in Mexico last year and is expected to go on trial in late April on multiple charges, including forced labor and possession of child pornography.