As reported by the WashingtonTimes
A political action committee connected to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has finally bowed to the sexual misconduct scandal sweeping the country, belatedly returning a $10,000 contribution made by a founder of Backpage.com, a classified-ad website that is a hub for sexual exploitation and human trafficking of women and girls.
The House Majority PAC’s chief told The Washington Times just three weeks ago that the 2016 donation had already been spent and that it was impossible to give it back.
But House Majority PAC President Alixandria Lapp, hoping to escape a growing controversy over keeping the cash for so long, said in a letter to the editor in a California newspaper this week that the money had been donated to a sexual assault prevention center in Arizona.
Allie Bones, CEO of Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, said her organization has not received the money.
“We received word that we would be receiving a donation from House Majority PAC on December 29th, but nothing has been received at this time,” she said.
Scrutiny of political contributions linked to Backpage intensified amid the uproar over sexual harassment that began with the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood and spread to Capitol Hill.
In a Dec. 17 report, The Times highlighted the Backpage contribution to Mrs. Pelosi’s super PAC, three state Democratic parties and several Arizona Democrats in Congress.
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 federal campaign finance data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Bowing to mounting pressure, including a bipartisan Senate investigation that found the owners knowingly sold ads to pimps who coerce minors into prostitution, Backpage a year ago closed its adult services sections.
The website, however, continues to be a marketplace for the sex trade.
Detroit police last month 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.
Such stories about Backpage are relatively commonplace across the country.
Mrs. Lapp’s letter to the editor was in response to an op-ed in the same paper by Rep. Edward R. Royce, California Republican, who called on Mrs. Pelosi to renounce the contribution.
“It’s time for Pelosi to do the right thing and finally wash her hands of this dirty money,” he wrote in The Orange County Register.
Mrs. Lapp insisted that Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, had nothing to do with soliciting money from the Backpage owner or the recent decision to dispose of the tainted cash. She noted that it would violate federal law for an elected official to direct the actions of a super PAC.
Mrs. Pelosi’s chief of staff, Drew Hammill, made the same point.
“Leader Pelosi was not involved or aware of this donation when it was made. Despite the inaccurate assertions of the Washington Times, Leader Pelosi has no control over what funds this PAC accepts nor can she order the PAC to return donations,” he said in an email to The Times.
House Majority PAC followed the lead of the lawmakers who previously gave the money to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
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