Q: Was Clare Bronfman an aide to Hillary Clinton — and was she indicted for child sex trafficking?
A: No. A false story is based on speculation that Bronfman could be indicted in relation to an alleged sex cult. But she never worked for Clinton.
Another story circulating on Facebook is attempting to spread a false narrative that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was somehow connected to an alleged sex cult.
This time, the website Your News Wire suggests that Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman was “one of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides” and that she has been indicted for “child sex trafficking.”
Neither is true — a fact that didn’t stop the post from accruing thousands of engagements on Facebook this week. The link was posted June 26, for example, in a group called “Trump Landslide 2016,” where commenters floated Clinton conspiracy theories and more than 5,600 reshared the link. Other websites also republished the story.
Bronfman did not work for the Clinton campaign, or for any Clinton entity, a spokesman for the Clinton Foundation confirmed to FactCheck.org (though she did donate to Clinton’s 2008 campaign, in addition to the National Republican Senatorial Committee). And we could find no court records indicating she has been charged with anything to date.
The false story largely borrows from another online story speculating that she may be indicted.
What is true is that Bronfman is connected to NXIVM, which bills itself as a self-help organization but was home to a secret society that federal prosecutors say forced women to provide sex and labor. Bronfman’s personal website notes that she “sits on NXIVM’s executive board managing much of the day to day business,” among other work with NXIVM founder Keith Raniere.
Raniere — as well as the former “Smallville” star Allison Mack — have been indicted on charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy. And in a March court letter, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said Raniere “is currently financially backed by Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune. She has financed the defendant repeatedly over the years including providing him with millions of dollars and paying for private air travel costing up to approximately $65,000 a flight.”
“She has also paid for numerous lawyers to bring suits against Nxivm critics,” the filing said.
Still, there is no indication that Bronfman has been criminally charged to date. Nor is there evidence that her sister, Sara Bronfman — also involved with NXIVM — has been.
In a December 2017 post on her website, Clare Bronfman defended NXIVM and Raniere.
“There have been many defamatory accusations made and I have taken them seriously. Determining the truth is extremely important to me, and I can say firmly that neither NXIVM nor Keith have abused or coerced anyone,” she wrote. “I retired from a very successful career as a professional show-jumper because I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life. NXIVM is that.”
We were not able to reach an attorney believed to represent Bronfman.
Your News Wire has shared plenty of false stories we’ve debunked, including another tale that tried to link NXIVM to the Clintons. That post made the false claim that Mack had “sold children to the Rothschilds and Clintons.” The charges against Raniere and Mack do not deal with children.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk false stories shared on the social media network.
Update, July 26: Clare Bronfman was arrested July 24 on charges relating to alleged identity theft, money laundering and “encouraging and inducing” illegal entry into the U.S.
“About Me.” ClareBronfman.com. Accessed 27 Jun 2018.
“Founder of ‘NXIVM,’ a Purported Self-Help Organization, and Actor Indicted for Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor Conspiracy.” Press release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. 20 Apr 2018.
Indictment, United States v. Keith Raniere and Allison Mack. U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. 19 Apr 2018.
Letter to The Honorable Steven M. Gold, Re: United States v. Keith Raniere. U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. 26 Mar 2018.
“Official Statement.” ClareBronfman.com. 14 Dec 2017.