A conservative political blog in Colorado is calling on Colorado Democrats to return nearly $90,000 in donations from executives of a website that, according to a U.S. Senate report, “facilitates prostitution and child sex trafficking.”
The call was issued by Colorado Peak Politics, which said, citing an Arizona Republic story, there’s a “hot hearing down in Arizona that hasn’t made its way to Colorado media … yet.”
“A federal grand jury is hearing evidence against executives with the lurid Backpage.com website, which powers those raunchy classifieds in places like the Village Voice in New York City, in preparation for a potential indictment after a report alleged that ‘the website knowingly accepted ads offering sex with underage girls.’”
The Republic article, prepared by students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State under the supervision of Professor Walter V. Robinson, explains that lawyers for Michael Lacey and James Larkin, who started Backpage.com, “acknowledged in a recent court filing that ‘indictments may issue anytime.’”
The Republic reported earlier this year a Senate investigation concluded Backpage “has knowingly concealed evidence of criminality by systematically editing its ‘adult’ ads.”
“At the directing of CEO Carl Ferrer, the company programmed [an] electronic filter to ‘strip’ – that is, delete – hundreds of words indicative of sex trafficking (including child sex trafficking) or prostitution from ads before their publication.”
Peak Politics said Backpage.com executives Michael Lacey, James Larkin, Scott Spear and John Brunst, as well as their wives, Margaret Larkin, Ellona Spear and Mary Ann Brunst, were all max-out donors to the Colorado Senate Victory Fund, giving $88,200, or $12,600 each, in the 2014 election cycle.
“Let us break this down for you,” the site said. “Essentially, the largest donors to the Democrats’ Colorado Senate Victory Fund, an arm of the state party, in 2014 knowingly provided a platform for facilitating child sex trafficking.
“We just threw up.”
A WND call to the Colorado Democratic Party requesting comment was not returned.
The blog posed a question for the Colorado Democratic Party and its new leader, Morgan Carroll: “Will the Colorado Democratic Party return the money? If past behavior is any indication of future behavior, the answer is no. But the Colorado Democratic Party, at the very least, must contribute the $88,200 to a nonpartisan (yes, an actual nonpartisan organization, not one of its fake ones) organization to stop child trafficking.
“If the Colorado Democratic Party doesn’t send these donations back, every one of their executives and elected officials should be shunned from society because this is just too much.”
The Phoenix New Times, a newspaper Lacey and Larkin started decades ago and later sold, ridiculed the Republic reporting.
The New Times said Lacey confirmed, “Why, yes, we did give money to help elect good public officials.”
The paper also pointed to Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which, it said, “holds the owners and operators of interactive websites harmless for third-party content.”
“Without Section 230, the Internet as we know it would cease to exist,” the report said.
The New Times defended the Backpage.com chiefs, pointing out they’ve won several court cases over the content of their site.
And, the report noted, Backpage critics want “to lay child prostitution at the Backpage execs’ feet, which is a vicious smear. The company has cooperated with law enforcement and has a list of accolades from cops high and low to attest to this, as well as the evidence of countless subpoenas answered.”
The defense continued: “Backpage eventually turned over thousands of documents and emails to the Senate subcommittee investigating it, and what was the worst that the subcommittee found, according to its 50-page report?
“Um, basically, that Backpage edited out certain words from its escort ads, like “Lolita,’ ‘barely legal,’ ‘cheerleader,’ and so on.”