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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When Jeffrey Epstein was barred from donating money to MIT, a university development officer suggested that "the Leon Black route" be used instead. As I reported back in September, Epstein engineered donations to MIT from Black, the chairman and CEO of private equity giant Apollo. Now it looks like he did something very similar at Harvard.

Driving the news: Harvard's official report on its Epstein connections has now been published, showing how professor Martin Nowak was funded after Epstein was convicted of sex crimes in 2008.

  • Background: Nowak's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics "was established in 2003 by Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers following an imaginative proposal by Jeffrey Epstein." That's according to the first version of the center's website.

Barred from donating to the university after his conviction, Epstein remained very close to Nowak.

  • When Nowak needed more money after Epstein's initial $6.5 million ran out, the pedophile financier introduced him to Black.
  • Black had no pre-existing relationship with Nowak but ended up providing $7 million in unrestricted gifts to allow the professor to keep paying rent on his research space in Brattle Square.
  • After those checks cleared, Epstein maintained an office in the research quarters that Black's money paid for. According to the report, "it is likely that he visited PED's offices more than 40 times between 2010 and 2018, including visits as recently as October 2018."
  • The report adds: "Epstein was routinely accompanied on these visits by young women, described as being in their 20s, who acted as his assistants."

Black confirms to Axios via a spokesperson that he was introduced to Nowak by Epstein, and says that the funds he gave to Nowak were not "provided by Mr. Epstein."

The bottom line: At MIT, Black was viewed as a donor who owed Epstein favors, and who could be relied on to provide cash at Epstein's behest. Black has an MBA from Harvard, making donations to his alma mater look slightly less suspicious. But they do seem to follow the same pattern.

Go deeper: How Jeffrey Epstein supported Harvard after his conviction

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.