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Independent Review from The Wexner Foundation

Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2020

As you know, given the concerns expressed by this community, we initiated an independent review of Jeffrey Epstein's involvement in The Wexner Foundation. The review represents what is widely regarded as best practice in cases like this and is part of our ongoing effort to be transparent and appropriately responsive. Completing this work in a thorough fashion required time.

The Columbus law firm of Kegler Brown was selected by the Foundation to conduct the review, with attorneys Chuck Kegler and Loriann Fuhrer leading the review team. Neither the Foundation nor Wexner family has worked with the Kegler Brown firm previously. The specifics of the process are detailed in the report, which is available to download here. 

Listed below are several key findings from the report which, after my own reading, I believe are worth highlighting:

  • Epstein served as a trustee of the Foundation from 1992 to 2007 when he was terminated by the Wexners and resigned as a trustee of the Foundation.
     
  • Epstein was never involved in determining Foundation policy. He never had any role in the Foundation's day-to-day leadership or activities. He did not have any role whatsoever in screening, identifying or selecting participants for any of our leadership initiatives. Rather, he merely acted as a functionary executing documents and facilitating the required financial support from the Wexners. 
     
  • Foundation leadership have no recollection of seeing Epstein in the Foundation offices or ever attending any Foundation program or events. 
     
  • There is no connection between the Foundation and any Wexner-related entity except for the bookkeeping and accounting services provided to the Foundation by the Wexner family financial office. 
     
  •  As previously stated, Epstein never contributed even a single dollar to financially support the work of the Foundation.
     
  • The facts regarding the YLK monies, while more complicated, are also clear. As the Wexners have stated publicly, they terminated Epstein in 2007 and severed all ties completely. At that time, a foundation, YLK, was created upon the advice of counsel.
     
  • There is no evidence that any Epstein personal, business or philanthropic funds were ever used to support the Foundation's work.

While not included in the report, I personally asked Abigail Wexner why legal action was not pursued against Epstein once his financial misappropriation was discovered. She explained that given the financial discoveries and what the Wexners were learning about the allegations of sexual misconduct against Epstein being raised in Florida, the Wexners concluded it was in the best interest of their family to avoid ongoing litigation entanglements and to terminate all association with Epstein immediately. 

You are encouraged to review the report in its entirety. Other more recent press unrelated to and not intended to be addressed by this report has generated additional conversations and questions from some of you that we are considering. We also are taking time to reflect on the report and review and assess best practices of philanthropic governance. We continue to seek and appreciate your patience even as we welcome all of your feedback.

Finally, together with the entire Foundation team, I thank you for your impassioned belief in our work, your high expectations of us as an organization, and most of all for your continuing leadership in your Jewish communities and the State of Israel. 

Let us all move from strength, through every challenge and back to even greater strength,
 
Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson 
President
The Wexner Foundation