Was Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) once a client of the notorious “Hollywood Madam,” Heidi Fleiss, who ran a prostitution ring in Los Angeles catering to the rich and powerful during the early 1990s?
Readers started posing that question to us in January 2019, in the midst of a resurgence of the then-year-old rumor on social media. Judging from the Facebook and Twitter posts we were alerted to, one might easily suppose the answer was settled fact:
WELL LOOKIE LOOKIE!!!!!!!……Schumer, why is he still around? Why is the Media like LOOSERS from NBC CBS, WASHINGTON POST ETC not all over this? Schumer In Heidi Fleiss Black Book pic.twitter.com/gbksafvAVE
— firstname.lastname@example.org (@wildfire124gma1) January 21, 2019
LIKE HEIDI FLEISS SAYS..WHIP IT WHIP IT GOOD CHUCKY SCHUMER..LOL! pic.twitter.com/DAl0yx7V5J
— justfacts (@justfac67493666) January 22, 2019
Chuck Schumer was one of Hedil Fleiss’ top clients. Look it up.
— 🇺🇸Doug Masters (@protestertrophy) January 23, 2019
Fleiss’s “black book” of clients (actually a set of Gucci day planners with red bindings) was said to contain the names and phone numbers of some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood, not to mention prominent businessmen and politicians. But Fleiss was fiercely protective of her client list and to this day, according to press reports, had refused to make its contents public. Someone claiming to have possession of it (possibly having stolen it from an FBI evidence room) put it up for auction on eBay in 2015, but the offering was mysteriously withdrawn a few days later.
In 1995, a prostitute who worked for Fleiss named two of her clients, actor Charlie Sheen (which Sheen himself confirmed) and former Denver Nuggets owner Sidney Shlenker (who also admitted in court to being a client of Fleiss). Various other famous names have come up in supposed “scoops” published by less-than-reliable sources, but to date the roster of confirmed Fleiss clients remains minuscule.
Notably, the name of Sen. Chuck Schumer has appeared in none of those stories. We searched media archives going back to 1990 and were unable to locate a single instance of Schumer’s and Fleiss’s names coming up in the same article. In point of fact, their names weren’t publicly linked in any context until December 2017, when posts similar to the ones reproduced above first began appearing on social media.
The earliest such post we’ve found was a tweet dated 9 December 2017:
@glennbeck your Friday show you were discussing sexual predators in Congress. Don’t forget Schumer was in Heidi Fleiss’ little black book several times
— The Patriot ❌ (@raiderjim40) December 9, 2017
The tweeter didn’t say where that information came from.
The next time we found Schumer and Fleiss’s names in such close proximity was 10 days later in online discussions following a so-called “Q drop” — a post on the internet troll message board 8chan by the enigmatic “Q,” an entity believed by his (or her) followers to be a highly-placed member of the Trump administration who purports to share earth-shattering insights into the president’s battle against “deep state” corruption.
Also described as “bread crumbs,” the posts are intentionally cryptic and understood by Q’s fanatical fan base (collectively known as “QAnon”) to be hints for further “research” as well as inspiration for pro-Trump propaganda to be disseminated on social media. Taken as a whole, the voluminous output of Q and QAnon is best described as a chaotic assemblage of disinformation and conspiracy theories touching on topics ranging from alleged acts of deep-state treason by Trump’s enemies in the government and media, to the exposure of alleged sex trafficking and pedophile rings operated by and for the so-called “Washington elite” (basically, everyone in D.C. other than President Trump and his loyalists). Q’s predictions and pronouncements have proved to be off the mark and flat out false more times than anyone can count, but in every case QAnon followers have either ignored these outcomes or found ways to rationalize them away and moved on.
The Q drop in question doesn’t even mention Chuck Schumer by name, interestingly enough. Instead, the initials “CS” are repeated three times in a list pairing the initials with the names Soros (George, presumably), Playboy (the magazine, no doubt), and Heidi Fleiss (the one and only Hollywood Madam):
We note that in the discussion that immediately followed among 8chan members, several articles about Heidi Fleiss and her prostitution ring were posted, none of which corroborated any link between Fleiss and Chuck Schumer. Nevertheless, the respondents to Q’s post dutifully filled in the blanks, interpreting “CS” to mean “Chuck Schumer” and “blackmail” to mean that Fleiss (or someone) must have compromising information about the senator. The content of anti-Schumer memes to come was thus spelled out and concretized in real time.
“Chuck Schumer was set up by playboy/heidi fleiss in service of the clowns,” wrote one follower. “Is now being blackmailed by them. Wow.”
“So meme-o-licious,” wrote another.
Less than 10 minutes later, the first Facebook-ready meme had already been uploaded to 8chan:
This and similar memes meme appeared amidst a flurry of posts on both Facebook and Twitter around that time, echoing the 8chan users’ assertion of a direct link between Fleiss and Schumer. This specimen with #QAnon and #MAGA hashtags was posted on 19 December 2017, the same day as the Q drop:
Chucky, Chucky, Chucky. Was Soros money worth it? Was Heidi Fleiss worth it? Was the #Adernochrome worth it? By now you must know you’re screwed. #MAGA #FLYCHUCKFLY# #QAnon #qanon #TickTock #TickTock pic.twitter.com/QdLt2LjeCE
— ❌One Pissed off American ❌ (@QAnonsSoldier) December 20, 2017
Some people who shared the rumor couldn’t resist amplifying the details. In this tweet, for example, the user alleged that Schumer and Fleiss were somehow involved in the trafficking and ritual abuse of children:
I guessed Chuck Schumer. Q post pointed to the idea that Hugh Hefner (Playboy) was secretly CIA (Clown), working with Heidi Fleiss (Hollywood Madam), to blackmail members of Congress in order to control them. Soros (Evil) is at the root. Child trafficking & sacrifice involved
— Trump Triumph in Tiffany Blue (@1HawkMama) December 20, 2017
And the March 2018 tweet below explicitly linked Schumer and Fleiss to the hashtag “#PizzaGate,” which referfed to a discredited hoax/conspiracy theory alleging that the Clintons and other Democratic Party luminaries operated a pedophile ring out of a family pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. (The shameless promotion of that hoax on social media and conspiracist websites ultimately led to shots being fired inside the restaurant):
Sizemore >> Heidi Fleiss >> Chuck Schumer. 6 degrees of Adrenochrome.
Long before Heidi Fleiss became a household name, before she was the liaison between A-listers and prostitutes, she was running things — a babysitting ring, to be exact. 😮#ChildTrafficking #PizzaGate pic.twitter.com/kWSen2rG07
— ☀️ Sharmila (@SharmilaW) March 23, 2018
Since then, the rumor has continued to circulate on social media at infrequent intervals, often in meme form. As we noted at the top of this article, the frequency of those posts picked up again in January 2019, perhaps as part of a general propaganda effort against Democratic congressional leaders as the appropriations battle over funding for Trump’s border wall heated up in the midst of the longest U.S. government shutdown ever.
Our research into this topic spanned 30 years of published materials, yet we found zero evidence to support the assertion that Sen. Chuck Schumer ever patronized Fleiss’s Hollywood prostitution ring, or was connected to her in any significant way. Indeed, we found no evidence that Schumer was even accused of such a thing prior to the rumor’s online debut in December 2017.