When Alan Dershowitz's name pops up in a news headline or on social media, you never know what you're going to get. Is Dershowitz, the high-profile defense attorney who helped secure a non-prosecution agreement for the late millionaire sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, arguing that the age of consent is too high? Is he maligning the victims of his former client, or bashing the woman who has accused him of sexual assault when she was a teen? Maybe he's fighting in court to keep Epstein's secrets under wraps.
Dershowitz's name recently turned up in an interesting place: a campaign-finance report for Citizens for Justice PC, a political committee supporting Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. Dershowitz contributed $1,000 to Rundle's re-election campaign in late July, according to a campaign treasurer's report.
In her 27 years as Miami-Dade state attorney, Rundle has painted herself as a champion for victims of crime. During her campaign, she touted her office's anti-sex-trafficking initiatives. The night of the August 18 primary election, when Rundle was re-elected for another four years, she said she would recommit herself to fighting for people who suffer after traumatic events and find themselves navigating a complex criminal-justice system.
While Rundle's role is to advocate for those affected by crime, Dershowitz has a history of victim shaming and blaming. In recent years, the attorney — once regarded as a defender of civil liberties — has become a pariah for his defense of Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former girlfriend and alleged procurer of underage girls. He has also been accused of sexually assaulting one of Epstein's victims, an allegation he has denied.
The campaign contribution from Dershowitz could be another bump on the road for Rundle, an established Democrat, as she looks to rebuild her reputation after a contentious campaign where her record came under close scrutiny by progressives.
Dershowitz did not return a phone message or email from New Times asking why he supported Rundle for state attorney. Dershowitz doesn't practice law in Florida, but a public records database shows he has addresses in Miami Beach and Boca Raton.
Rundle's campaign spokesperson directed New Times to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office for comment about the contribution, saying his time with Rundle ended the day of the August 18 primary election. The State Attorney's Office then directed New Times back to Rundle's campaign spokesperson.
Rundle and Dershowitz have been photographed together during various events over the years, including a charity gala in 2012 and a Greater Miami Jewish Federation event in 2017. The two also spoke to a group of students attending the Beacon Academy on Martha's Vineyard in 2015:
Honored to speak w/Professor Alan Dershowitz to the youth of Beacon Academy in Martha's Vineyard. Great group of kids pic.twitter.com/VqPPeUj1zR— Kathy Rundle (@KathyFndzRundle) August 11, 2015
In one photo caption, Rundle described Dershowitz as a friend and colleague:
With the help of recruiters, Jeffrey Epstein was accused of creating a network of underage girls that he would lure to his mansion for "massages" and then force into sex. According to a New Yorker profile, when Epstein learned in 2005 that Palm Beach police were investigating him for sex crimes, he immediately called his friend Dershowitz.
If convicted, Epstein would have spent the rest of his life in prison. But in 2007, Dershowitz and the rest of Epstein's powerhouse legal team secured a sweetheart non-prosecution deal that avoided any real consequences.
Following an exhaustive investigation by the Miami Herald in 2018, Epstein was arrested again last year for federal human-trafficking charges, but he killed himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. Despite his death, the case hasn't disappeared for Dershowitz, who remains locked in a legal battle with Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
In other news...
Apart from the gift from Dershowitz, Rundle's campaign received another controversial donation shortly before the election.
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As Miami political blogger Al Crespo reported yesterday, Citizens for Justice PC banked $3,000 from Armor Correctional Health Services, a for-profit company that provides medical services in jails across Florida and other states. Last year, New Times reported about the company's troubling history of inmate deaths and court settlements that have reached into the millions.
Notably, Armor has been criminally charged for falsifying records in the death of a Wisconsin man and agreed not to bid on any contracts in the state of New York after placing inmates there at risk and failing to meet contractual obligations. New Times found at least 34 lawsuits in which Armor was accused of contributing to a death.
In 2018, the Florida Democratic Party approved a measure banning political donations from private prison companies. While Democrats in Florida have pushed for criminal-justice reforms and against mass incarceration, private-prison money has continued to creep into the party's coffers.