A purported pyramid-scheme operator who was run out of Arkansas when Bill Clinton was governor has reinvented himself as the head of an upstate group accused of being a "cult" - and his devotees have pumped thousands into Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential run.
Executives and top associates of the Albany-based NXIVM group - along with their family members - donated $29,900 to Clinton's presidential campaign, according to federal records.
On March 14 and April 13, records show, more than a dozen contributions poured into Clinton's coffers from NXIVM, an executive and group-awareness training organization led by Brooklyn-born Keith Raniere, 47.
Most were from first-time political donors, each giving the $2,300 maximum.
The revelation comes on the heels of the arrest of Norman Hsu, who raised $1.5 million in campaign contributions for the Clintons and other Democrats, even though he was technically a fugitive from fraud charges in California.
Hsu jumped bail in early September but was nabbed and is currently locked up in California.
In his previous incarnation, the Svengali-like Raniere ran a $30 million multilevel marketing business that imploded after federal agencies and regulators in 23 states alleged it was an illegal pyramid scheme.
He has managed to attract famous names to NXIVM.
Three of the March and April Clinton pledges came from Raniere's most high-profile followers: Seagram heiresses Clare and Sara Bronfman, and Pamela Cafritz, daughter of D.C. A-listers Buffy and Bill Cafritz.
Cafritz shares a condo with Raniere.
The Bronfman sisters are also deeply involved with NXIVM and, according to a 2003 article in Forbes magazine, have loaned millions to the group and provided use of their jet.
Their father, Edgar Bronfman Sr., once took NXIVM classes but soon severed ties, telling Forbes, "It's a cult."
The Clinton campaign downplayed the significance of the NXIVM-related contributions.