"I never heard of Nxivm," claims Kirsten Gillibrand.
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Gillibrand sat at Nxivm table with Nancy Salzman at Hillary Clinton event

Kirsten Gillibrand’s announcement that she is running for president generated an immediate reaction from former anti-Nxivm blogger John Tighe, who is currently a federal prisoner.

He claims Gillibrand is lying if she claims she never heard of the sex-slaver cult until news broke that they branded women in 2017.

As most readers know, Tighe operated Saratoga In Decline, a blog dedicated to exposing the secrets of  NXIVM, until it was shuttered by a raid by New York State Police, headed up by Rodger Kirsopp.

State Police seized his computers and eventually arrested Tighe.

From prison, Tighe said that Gillibrand’s claim to the New York Post in late 2017, that she never heard of NXIVM is untrue. A spokesman for the senator told Richard Johnson of Page Six, “Sen. Gillibrand had never heard of this group until she recently read about them in the newspaper.”

Tighe tells Frank Report – emailing us from prison – that he first met Gillibrand at a 2006 event for Hillary Clinton at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs, NY, when Gillibrand was running against John Sweeney for the 20th Congressional seat.

Tighe noted that when Clinton arrived to speak, Gillibrand seated herself at one of the front three tables – all of which had been purchased by NXIVM and were full of NXIVM members. Gillibrand actually sat next to Nancy Salzman throughout the event.

“Yeah the three front VIP tables were all brought by NXIVM and she was sitting with Nancy Salzman. You can quote me on that,” Tighe told Frank Report.

Even prior to this revelation by Tighe, Frank Report had doubts that Gillibrand was telling the truth about not having heard about Nxivm until 2017 when they made national news for branding women.

Here’s why:

NXIVM is located in Albany – Gillibrand’s hometown – and the cult was featured in dozens of front page stories in the Albany Times Union since 2003.  Did Gillibrand miss 15 years of Times Union stories about the cult – or perhaps never paid enough attention to them to remember them?

Nxivm’s biggest financial supporter, Clare Bronfman, who was arrested in July 2018 for her role in the cult’s criminal activities, contributed $2,400 to Gillibrand’s 2010 special-election Senate campaign.

Her father, Doug Rutnik, worked as an attorney and lobbyist for Nxivm – at a rate of $25,000 per month in 2004.

Her father was sued by Nxivm and several of its members, including Nancy Salzman, allegedly for sexual harassment of Salzman. Doug settled with Nxivm by paying them $100,000 in June 2006.

Gillibrand’s cousin, Gwenn Bellcourt, married her father and became her stepmother because of Nxivm.

It’s a somewhat romantic story which I have told before. In short, Gillibrand’s father, Doug Rutnik was consulting for NXIVM when he introduced his younger, second cousin, Gwenn Bellcourt, an attorney, to the cult.

Doug initially asked Gwenn to take a 5-day intensive to determine if Nxvim needed a license as an educational institution.  Gwenn was immediately targeted by Nxivm leaders, Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman, for inclusion in the high rank of the cult.

After the first course, Gwenn became enamored. She took another 5-day course, then another.  Salzman, a master hypnotist, also spent an enormous amount of time one-on-one with Gwenn.  Raniere wanted her to become NXIVM’s inside attorney.

At the time, Gwenn was engaged to another man. But Salzman and Raniere persuaded her to break off the engagement to devote more time to Nxivm for she had, they said, a higher purpose to fulfill with the mission.

As soon as Gwenn broke off with her fiance and was fully indoctrinated into the cult, Raniere decided they no longer needed Rutnik as a consultant.  Nancy claimed Doug sexually harassed her. Raniere demanded Doug pay back four months of $25,000 payments. He refused. NXIVM sued him, threatening to ruin his reputation by exposing the scandal. Doug paid NXIVM $100,000 as per terms of an out-of-court settlement.  He and NXIVM signed a confidentiality agreement promising never to reveal the settlement agreement. Someone leaked the agreement to Frank Report.

Doug Rutnik with daughter Kristen Gillibrand.
The Nxivm/Rutnik brouhaha had a happy ending, however. After Doug paid Nxivm $100,000, he did what few were ever successful in doing – he rescued and deprogrammed his cousin, Gwenn. Loved bloomed and he married her.
Yet somehow Gillibrand never heard of Nxivm until 2017, when “she read about them in the newspaper”.

What Tighe adds to the story about Gillibrand is that she was seen publicly with Salzman, the accuser of her father, after or around the time her father settled with Nxivm.  This was at a time when Raniere was trying to buy influence in politics, in large part to get his enemies, Toni Natalie, Rick Ross, and Joe O’Hara indicted.

Clinton was one of their main hopes to help with these indictments and they gave substantially to her.

The New York Post reported in 2007, “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…more than a dozen contributions poured into Clinton’s coffers from NXIVM…Most were from first-time political donors, each giving the $2,300 maximum.”

All told, more than $60,000 was donated to Clinton. Frank Report later revealed that Bronfmans paid numerous Nxivm members $2,300 in cash who, in turn, then made out checks to Clinton for the same amount. This type of activity is a federal crime.

Tighe said when he first met Gillibrand, he was unimpressed with “her baby voice and demeanor” – and did not think she had much of a chance to beat Sweeney. But she won that race when just a few days before the election, a New York State Police report involving an alleged “domestic violence” incident at Sweeney’s home was leaked to the press – a leak that has been attributed by several sources to Gillibrand’s father, Rutnik.

It was ironically the same New York State Police who had a hand in Tighe’s imprisonment.

Because of his relentless work to bring NXIVM’s illegal operations to the attention of local law enforcement officials, Tighe was targeted by Raniere, Bronfman, and other high-ranking members of the cult.

On October 23, 2013, Tighe’s blog came to an abrupt end when his computer was seized by New York State Police on suspected computer trespassing charges.

He was charged and, in a November 2013 plea bargain, Tighe admitted he intentionally accessed the computer network of NXIVM, downloading the list of NXIVM participants and clients, including contact information.

Moral High Ground: While Keith Raniere was never accused of having child porn on his computers, he was accused of raping Rhiannon when she was 12.

Here is the police report Rhiannon signed. Note that she said she had “sexual intercourse with a man named Keith Raniere. This occurred when I was approximately 12-13 years old and occurred either at Keith’s townhouse at 3 Flintlock Lanes, Clifton NY or his business located at Rome Plaza Clifton Park, NY”.

In February 2014, about four months after his computer was seized, Tighe was arrested by the New York State Police who allegedly “found” pornographic pictures and videos of children on one of his allegedly seized computers, which was in their possession for four months prior to his arrest.

Tighe was facing 20 years in prison on child porn charges. He had diabetes, peripheral neuropathy and intestinal cancer. He also had no health insurance. His plea deal was tied to the fact that he didn’t have any more money for legal fees and needed some very expensive – and some very immediate – medical care.  And he very likely didn’t like the prospect of doing 20-years in federal prison – which is what his sentence would probably have been had he gone to trial on the child porn charge and lost.

The only evidence they found on Tighe’s alleged computer was one file that contained the alleged child porn. No file sharing with anyone else. And no other files with child porn on them. There are those who believe that Raniere, with the aid of others, had child porn planted on a computer that was alleged to have been owned by Tighe (Tighe claims that one of the computers that was supposedly seized from his home – and that is described in New York State Police records as a MAC computer – did not belong to him because he hated MAC computers and would never own one).

Was John Tighe an innocent man? A life destroyed by NXIVM?

Making matters worse, Tighe had also become a target of the O’Connell & Aronowitz law firm – which was NXIVM’s primary legal representative at the time and reputed to have a lot of “juice” in the Capital District.  That was especially true in terms of Steve Coffey, Mike McDermott, and Pam Nichols, three of the top attorneys there, that he often called out by name and who had an extraordinary role in working with State Trooper Kirsopp in the investigation and prosecution of Tighe and others in the computer trespassing case.

In his plea agreement, Tighe admitted that, in June 2013, he used Western Digital TV to access websites and file-sharing networks to download child pornography. He admitted to storing 400 videos and 40,000 images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit poses or conduct. As part of the plea, prosecutors acknowledged Mr. Tighe did not distribute any of the files.

In June 2015, Judge Thomas McAvoy sentenced Tighe to five years and 10 months in federal prison – and recommended he be placed in a federal facility that could accommodate his complex medical needs.  After his release, Tighe must register as a sex offender.

What makes the whole matter suspicious is that in various court documents, Raniere is alleged to have employed people to hack computers. In the criminal charges she now faces, Clare Bronfman was alleged to have planted a bug on her father’s computer to monitor emails. Raniere is also alleged to have imprisoned an illegal Mexican woman for 18 months whose job it was to hack computers and monitor them.

More ominously, two longtime Nxivm members, Benjamin X. Myers and Steve Ose, participated in the computer trespass case against Tighe, O’Hara, and Natalie when they were trotted out as purported independent computer experts before the prosecutor in a clear attempt to mislead her.  Myers and Ose were actually employed as computer hackers for Raniere and Bronfman.  The computer trespassing charges were dropped against O’Hara and Natalie when it was discovered that Bronfman lied about the location of the Nxivm servers and had employed Ose to secretly move them to Albany County [from Saratoga County] to gain jurisdiction.

Nxivm computer hacker Steve Ose may have had a hand in planting child porn on a computer alleged to have been owned by John Tighe.

While Tighe is currently “on the sidelines” serving out his sentence for allegedly having child porn on one of his alleged computers, he is still monitoring what’s going on with the NXIVM cult – and reading every post on Frank Report (He has them emailed into him every day).

And so, when Tighe read the recent post about Gillibrand running for president, he was quick to advise us about his knowledge of Gillibrand’s own ties with NXIVM.

Were it not for the fact that federal officials from the Eastern District of New York are in the process of taking the NXIVM cult down, it is possible that Tighe would be charged with harassing and stalking Kirsten Gillibrand because of what he reveals in this post.

It’s just not like “the good old days” for NXIVM and its allies.

Among the baseless accusations that Nxivm asserted against Tighe in the past are the following (All of these charges are set forth in Rodger Kirsopp’s “Incident Report”):

– Harassing a Nxivm member and her son, by posting information about them on his blog;

– Harassing and stalking Esther Chiappone by showing up at Vanguard Week in 2010 and 2011 – and at a NXIVM Holiday Party at Apropos;

– Harassing and stalking Siobahn Hotaling by posting information about her sexual orientation on his blog – and by making an unauthorized parody of one of the many non-famous songs that she wrote and sang;

– Harassing and stalking Ivy Nevares by showing up near her birthday party at Apropos and at NXIVM’s 2011 Winterfest party at the same location – and by taking an unauthorized photograph of her while she attended a birthday party for Nancy Salzman;

– Harassing and stalking Nancy Salzman by showing up near her birthday party at Apropos and at Vanguard Week in 2010 and 2011 – and by coming to her home and ringing her doorbell allegedly for ten minutes;

– Harassing and stalking Clare Bronfman by showing up at Vanguard Week in 2010 and 2011;

– Harassing and stalking Pam Cafritz by showing up at Vanguard Week in 2010 and 2011, by posting pictures of her car and her townhouse on his blog, and by driving his car towards her and Keith Raniere while they were walking through Know Woods on December 23, 2011; and

– Harassing and stalking Keith Raniere by following him, by posting threats against Raniere on his blog, and by driving his car towards Raniere and Pam Cafritz while they were walking through Knox Woods on December 23, 2011.

None of these allegations ever resulted in any charges being brought against Tighe because none of the alleged actions constituted a crime – or, in the case of the alleged attempted rundown of Cafritz and Raniere, the event never happened.

But the real crime was that Tighe was exposing Nxivm to a growing audience. They may have found a way to stop him.

Tighe named several well known people that were at the 2006 event where he claimed Gillibrand sat with Salzman at the Nxivm table to listen to Clinton’s speech.

His account can likely be easily verified by others who saw what he saw.

Meantime, Gillibrand joins some 460 other announced candidates for president. She was re-elected as US Senator for New York in 2018. In her only debate with her senate opponent, Gillibrand was asked if she was going to run for president and she replied “I will serve my six-year term.”

While it is true that she will likely serve her six year term on the sole grounds that she is not likely to be nominated for, let alone elected, president, there are those that found it an impressive lie that she claimed she would not run for president in late October – in order to ensure her reelection to the US Senate, then within days of her starting her second term, she announced she is running for president.

That’s the kind of dishonest behavior we suspect of Gillibrand in her denial of even having heard about Nxivm. This gal will say and do anything – if she thinks it will help her.

 

About the author

Artvoice

News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

25 Comments

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  • These lying politicians! For people who claim to know what’s best for the rest of us, they sure are fond of pleading ignorance if it serves their purpose. In our society, there are no longer any consequences for bold faced lying to the public. It’s all just a game to them…they treat us like the idiots they believe us to be.

    Second, it seems it was NXIVM’s M.O. to pay consultants good money only to demand it all back after a period of time…just like the cheating, lying tax evaders they are.

    So glad to hear JT is in touch with you, Frank. You now carry the torch of what he started.

  • Too funny. The “lightweight” from New York is every bit as corrupt and crazy as her fellow criminal that is going to try and run from California. These corrupt fools believe some of their own bullshit. No Kirsty, trying to run for President will not let you escape the storm that is on the horizon.

  • Plea bargains really have changed are court system and have affected the presumption of innocence. As Claviger wrote, if your looking at 20 years hard time and do not have the financial resources to fight…a plea bargain looks god damn attractive. A great article on plea bargains and what effect plea bargains have had on the criminal justice system can be found here https://instagram.com/p/Bs1bd7DAgg2/

    I do not know anything about Mr. Tighe’s case but I do know that the FBI as well as other law enforcement agencies that are backlogged will put off an arrest provided the public at large is not in danger. They actually will sit on something for months. That information is easy to look up.

    I do believe it is possible Tighe was set up. The software is readily available.

    Look at all the cases of “swatting” and the number of people actually apprehended. Software hacker tools on the web to do all sorts of nefarious things are readily available to anyone that looks hard enough.

    Side note: Excellent well written researched article.
    What’s really amazing in regards to all politicians around the world is what paltry sums of money it takes to buy them off. 10 seats at 10,000 plate dinner.

    By the way that dinner and the seats that were purchased by Nxivm a private for profit company most likely violated federal campaign finance law!!!! At the time.

  • Frank & Claviger here are some questions below that might interest the two of you.
    I do not know what programs were on Mr. Tighe’s hard drive maybe you do.
    The questions are the following:
    Did Tighe have FTP file sharing programs on his computer ? The answer obviously is yes every personal computer or server has some FTP programs. Did Tigh have Limewire or other peer to peer direct FTP program? Who cares right yes or no.

    THE BIG QUESTION ….. Did Tyghe have a TOR bitttorent or some other anonymous file transfer software on his computer for “indirect” relay file sharing?
    Because unless you live in a totalitarian nation or are an incredible paranoid libertarian/ anarchist there is no need to have a BitTorrent on your computer unless you are up to some shady shit.

    I previously worked in software development and tech support and we always joked that unless someone is teenager people that use BitTorrent are some crazy/shady individuals.

    • Haha oops I have BitTorrent on my MAC and I’m not crazy or shady and definitely not left-leaning. I never use it, though. I think I installed it years ago to download a movie and haven’t bothered with it since. Why is it so bad, niceguy? Should I delete it?

      • Shelly
        I do not know Mr. Tighe at all. I do not know whether he is guilty or innocence. I do believe it is possible he was framed.
        Frank repeatedly mentions Mr. Tighe being framed. I was just asking a question.

        My questions to you Shelby are as follows:

        How many people using Limewire or some similar peer to peer network have been prosecuted for downloading Game of Thrones, The Last XMen movie or the lastest Lady Gagaga song ? Answer: nobody unless they were doing it on a grand scale.

        How many pedophiles down loading child porn when arrested happened to be using an anonymous FTP BitTorrent program? Answer: just Google it.

        My point was and is ….. if Tighe happened to have a BitTorrent program and the child porn was in the BitTorrent main directory and showed up in the BitTorrent program interface GUI then that Shelby would be a giant red flag. How would someone not notice it the child porn file in the GUI Graphical user interface? How ever if it was outside the directory and hence not in the graphical user interface I would be more inclined to believe his innocence.

        Again I have no idea about the case and what was exactly was found on the Tighe’s hardrive. Perhaps Frank does. Do you Frank?

        If you don’t follow my above logic and I am sounding like one of the cranks on Frankreport the next 2 statements is as lucid as I can be after a long day.

        If Tighe had no BitTorrent program whatsoever then I believe he was framed.

        If he did have BitTorrent there are a lot of questions that need answers before I or anyone else should buy into the belief he was framed by Nxivm and a crooked cop.

      • I’m not sure niceguy knows what he’s talking about with regards to the technology. Beyond claiming that there’s no use for torrenting outside of a very limited set of scenarios (see my comment debunking that one), he uses phrases like “anonymous FTP BitTorrent program” – which are multiple different things (no program is all of those). Let me explain why I’m rolling my eyes at that…

        First off, anonymizing programs exist, and any program that relies on the Internet can be made anonymizing to some degree depending on what method one uses (Tor, VPNs, simple proxies, etc.) and what one defines as anonymizing (for instance, Tor is not completely anonymous, knowledgeable people will tell you). I will admit this is one area where yes, unless you’re concerned about being monitored (whether because the government’s bad or you’re doing illegal things or you’re just plain paranoid), most people will not bother with anonymizing all their traffic. However, in a certain number of cases (I can’t name statistics but I know this is done), people use VPNs to bypass geographical restrictions, which might possibly be illegal, but certainly not immoral in every case. (Many geographical restrictions provide no alternate methods of accessing the same things, and those who travel to other countries may want to access the things they would at home for legitimate reasons.)

        FTP is a specific protocol and it can be used for filesharing, but the only time I’ve used it was to share files between two computers at my house, on a server that both computers could access. As a form of P2P, I’ve read that it is typically used with small groups of file sharers (with passworded access), mainly the release groups (not being in any of those, I wouldn’t know for sure). Any web browser can do FTP, which means it can be combined with anonymizing easily. Once again, most people who use FTP probably aren’t concerned with anonymizing unless for the reasons stated above. The most common use for FTP, last I knew, is actually in *work* situations; it’s an efficient way to share files centrally with a group of colleagues. (One can hardly claim that is a red flag.)

        Bittorrent is a *different* protocol – meaning it’s mutually exclusive with FTP – and I don’t know of any programs that do both, unless you count an Internet browser that has a torrent client extension. Torrents are generally done with specific clients, though some games have torrenting built in as an update mechanism (if I remember correctly, World of Warcraft uses the Bittorrent protocol to do some updates – the bandwidth is thereby shared between the players and lessens the load on the company’s servers). And, as I pointed out in my other comment, there are perfectly valid reasons to use a torrent client, from trying out Linux to taking advantage of the legally free offerings of a company or artist. Torrent clients can be anonymized, and the serious file-sharers will do VPNs to avoid being pinpointed by law enforcement or sue-happy companies.

        To me, the only real red flag of any of the possibilities listed above would be if he’d had a torrent client configured to use a VPN. That would suggest illegal activities to me (but not necessarily child porn – in fact, given how easy it is to monitor torrents, I would think those into child porn would be leery of using torrents as a means of sharing the files). Otherwise, there are legitimate uses for every other scenario. (Unless niceguy wants me to claim that because he has a web browser installed on his computer, and it’s capable of having a proxy set in it, that he must thereby be engaged in illegal downloading…)

        I won’t claim to be infallible, so I’m sure someone can point to something in this comment that’s incorrect, but given my experience with these technologies over the past decade and beyond, I’m fairly confident about the overall accuracy of this comment.

        • Thank you for the feedback. I am just trying to ascertain what software was on Tighe’s computer and what was his IT proficiency. I don’t know anything about the case. Frank seems to believe Tighe was set up. Tighe’s admission of guilt was fairly specific and mentions the website he used allegedly.
          I believe it is possible Tighe was setup and took a plea. Given what allegedly went down with Bronfman Senior’s computer Nxvim hackers know how get a hold of hacker tools. I doubt they know a lick of MASM.
          I was hoping Frank would enlighten us in regards to his belief.

          On side note you use Torrents? ….. enjoy all that pirated software, tv shows & music ….and have great day!

          • Oh, I understood most of your comment was about that. I was simply addressing the erroneous statement (which you seem to be perpetuating in your last paragraph in your reply to me – did you have difficulty understanding all that I wrote or do you have some factual challenge to my statements – with data to back it up?) that the only purpose for torrents is piracy. If you search “public domain torrents” you’ll find at LEAST one site devoted simply to content that is NOT pirated, and as I mentioned, anyone using Linux (something I’ve been doing for years) is likely to use torrents to obtain and share the distributions of the operating systems (legitimately–not pirated!), as it reduces the bandwidth load on the distro’s servers and speeds up everyone’s downloads. It would be nice if you would acknowledge the fact (if for nothing else, than to stop misinforming others) that there ARE other purposes to torrents besides piracy, and the existence of a torrent client on a computer is not an admission of guilt, or even evidence of filesharing. (For that matter, many Linux distros *come* with a torrent client installed; they know that if you’re testing Linux, you’ll probably need it. Mine did – and as I said, I used it just the other day – for a very legal purpose, downloading a new version of Linux Mint Cinnamon. No piracy there!)

            I also believe Tighe was set up – one file only? Ridiculous – every single arrest you hear about of people with child porn is always multiple counts, this many dozens or hundreds of files, etc. No one ever has just ONE file. (It’s the nature of addictive behavior – you don’t stop at one – and I would imagine child porn addicts are no different from other addicts in that respect.) That screams “setup” to me.

            Also, one can be well-informed about what is going on in the filesharing world without being a pirate (try reading TorrentFreak now and then – you might learn something useful from it – like the legitimate uses of the torrent protocol).

    • OK, the rest of the comment I don’t have much to speak to, but “no need to have a BitTorrent [client] on your computer”, what nonsense is this??? First off, anyone trying out Linux (and it’s not just for geeks these days, there are quite a few Linux distributions – aka distros – that are very user-friendly and fully-featured) will find it *far* faster (and possibly more stable) to download the iso of the distro via torrents. (I did that just the other day – downloaded the latest release of Linux Mint Cinnamon for a relative’s computer.) The groups behind each distro usually encourage the use of torrents for this because it lowers the bandwidth use of their servers. Also, there are some artists who have released albums free on torrents, as well as public domain films, books, etc. that can be downloaded via torrents. The vast majority of torrent use may be illegal, but *not* exclusively so, and there is a good deal of legally free things that are available on torrents, and sites that cater to that. Sweeping statements such as yours are inaccurate and misleading.

  • So, Gillibrand sat with Nancy at this 2006 event, and at this same time, in 2006, Nancy was in the process of suing Gillibrand’s father for sexual harassment?
    Something is not adding up here.

    • Absolutely, Flowers! I’ve sometimes wondered if there were high profile political NXIVM members that were kept secret from the ordinary members. Why would Kirsten Gillibrand chat happily to Nancy Salzman at that time unless she was tied to NXIVM through membershiip or monetary gain?

    • Hey little lady, did this little diddie get past your snoot?

      The New York Post reported in 2007, “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…more than a dozen contributions poured into Clinton’s coffers from NXIVM…Most were from first-time political donors, each giving the $2,300 maximum.”

      All told, more than $60,000 was donated to Clinton. Frank Report later revealed that Bronfmans paid numerous Nxivm members $2,300 in cash who, in turn, then made out checks to Clinton for the same amount. This type of activity is a federal crime.

      The storm is upon you. This isn’t a fuckin game

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