If ever a campaign contribution needed to be sent back…
During a season when sex abuse and harassment scandals are rocking politics, sports, and entertainment, it would seem that the wise among us would be super-cautious about our associations.
For politicians, that means keen focus on donors, as well.
You know, unless you’re a Democrat, then you can reason it all away with one hand, while you’re taking the check with the other.
Case in point: a vile classified website called BackPage-dot-com has gained notoriety for facilitating sex trafficking and prostitution.
Also, the owners of the site have a particular affinity for Democrat politics.
It turns out that after then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced felony pimping charges against the owners of the site in 2016, one of those owners felt comfortable enough to cut a $10,000 check to Nancy Pelosi’s Super Pac. What’s more, the House Majority PAC doesn’t feel particularly compelled to return that money.
To be fair, other Democrats are getting money and finding ways to creatively skirt the troublesome optics of taking money that came at the expense of human lives and the innocence of young girls, in many cases.
Since 2010, the owners and their wives have shoveled about $99,000 to candidates and about $95,000 to Democratic parties in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, according to federal campaign finance data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.
After an investigation, the site was forced to close down its “adult services” section in January. That hasn’t stopped traffickers and pimps from finding a way around that.
Detroit police last week arrested two men who were using Backpage to run a sex trafficking ring after an underage girl told police she was brought to the city and put to work as a prostitute, with “dates” arranged on the website.
In June, a Chicago man was arrested after using Backpage to sell a 16-year-old girl who was eventually killed by a client.
And the money keeps rolling in – and out – to Democrat candidates and causes across the country.
The founders and controlling shareholders of Backpage, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, and Backpage executives and shareholders John Brunst and Scott Spear, have made fortunes from the websites.
In California alone, Backpage rakes in about $2.5 million per month, according to charging documents in the Golden State.
Larkin was responsible for the donation to Pelosi’s PAC, House Majority PAC.
The pimping charges were actually dropped in August, due to a federal law that shields websites from liability. In other words, they’re not billing themselves as a site for human trafficking. It just happens. The owners still face money laundering charges, however.
So they’re just scummy guys.
Republican Senator Rob Portman (Ohio) has proposed legislation that would make such websites accountable for the type of ads they run, especially when those ads are barely concealed ads for prostitution.
That legislation is expected to see the light of day early in 2018.
So why isn’t House Majority PAC giving back that money?
According to Executive Director Charlie Kelly – it’s already spent.
“The contribution from James Larkin was received and spent during the 2016 election cycle. The allegations against Larkin are reprehensible, and HMP will not accept any future contributions from Larkin or his associates at Backpage.com,” he said in a statement to The Washington Times.
They further point out that Pelosi knew nothing about the contribution.
As for who is benefitting, since 2010, the bulk of BackPage’s contributions have gone to the Colorado Democratic Party (around $70,000) with most or all of that contributed in 2014.
Arizona and New Mexico Democrats are reaping those dirty rewards, as well, but nobody seems to want to talk about them.
The Arizona Democratic Party has been under increasing pressure from its Republican counterpart to return the money or donate it to an appropriate charity.
Earlier this year, an Arizona Democratic Party official gave The Arizona Republic the same explanation now used by Mrs. Pelosi’s super PAC: “The money had already been spent.”
It doesn’t have to be those exact bills. You can just count out how much you got and give that back.
Arizona Republican Party spokesman Torunn Sinclair agrees with me.
“They obviously have the cash to return this dirty money; they just don’t want to return it,” she said. “Arizona Democrats, including [Congress members] Kyrsten Sinema, Tom O’Halleran and Ann Kirkpatrick, need to step up to the plate and tell them to donate the money.”
Ms. Kirkpatrick, who federal records show pocketed at least $16,000 since 2010, finally rid herself of it in September with a donation to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Mr. O’Halleran also disposed of roughly $8,100.
Ms. Sinema received the most Backpage money by far. Federal campaign records show that she took in $34,400 from the Backpage owners and their wives since 2010.
Sinema was apparently having a real trouble parting with those greenbacks.
She tried to donate $10,000 to Friends of Public Radio Arizona, but the organization ran like scalded dogs from money associated with sex trafficking.
Smart, or at least, smarter than your Democrat politicians.
She eventually donated it all to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Yeah, that’s better. Most would have probably thought of that long before they tried to break off little pieces of it to give to other liberal causes.
Predictably, Sinema avoided answering any questions about the dirty money when confronted Thursday on Capitol Hill.
She referred her questioners to her office, instructing them to make an appointment.
Then she apparently instructed her staff not to take the calls.