Columbus Monthly digs deeper into the Wexner-Epstein connection

Andy Downing
Les Wexner

Reading Dave Ghose's cover feature on the ties between Jeffrey Epstein and Les Wexner, as well as the local firewall that has, thus far, shielded Wexner from greater blowback within the city, I was initially struck by the difficulty Ghose had in getting anyone with real influence in Columbus to comment on the record.

Ghose writes:

You have to go a long way down the city’s power structure to find someone willing to criticize Wexner’s connections to Epstein on the record. “Columbus as a whole is not OK with this,” says Liliana Rivera Baiman, an underdog candidate for Columbus City Council whose status as a sexual assault survivor inspired her in part to speak out. She is concerned that the most powerful person in the city was associated with a sexual predator, wants to know more about their financial and personal relationship and wants to hold Wexner accountable if wrongdoing is discovered. Mostly, she wants to have a loud, public conversation.

To be sure, she’s not Wexner’s only public critic. There are plenty of dark takes on Wexner, especially outside of Columbus and in the cynical, conspiracy-fueled world of social media. But the Columbus establishment is a different story. For instance, all of Rivera Baiman’s incumbent opponents—Councilmembers Elizabeth Brown, Emmanuel Remy, Shayla Favor and Rob Dorans—declined to comment for this article. “I think people are afraid of bringing it up,” Rivera Baiman says.

Otherwise, most of the city's power players hew to a similar refrain in line with the sentiments offered up by Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer, who says, "Those of us who know him best know of his unwavering ethics, his moral compass, his unselfish commitment to Columbus."

But the deep, strange Epstein ties detailed by Ghose, whose feature you can read in full here, raise a number of questions that it seems few in town want to address.