Prominent Democrats including President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accepted campaign money from Craig Newmark, whose Craigslist classified ad website profited in part from child sex trafficking.
Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, has given over $84,000 to prominent Democrats and Democratic political committees, according to the independent Center for Responsive Politics. Newmark did not give any money to Republicans.
In the wake of Craigslist’s profiting as much as $44 million this year from illegal sexual commerce, including child sex trafficking, HUMAN EVENTS launched an investigation to determine which Democratic politicians would return Newmark’s tainted political donations. Only one Democrat—Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy—is returning the campaign donation.
Craigslist Ads for Sex With Children
Before it shut down last week, the Adult Services section on Craigslist was full of ads for escort services and erotic massages, many containing provocative photos of women. Mixed among those solicitations were ads trafficking children for prostitution.
Malika Saada Saar, executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights— has been campaigning for Craigslist to take down its Adult Services section because of the child victims of sex trafficking. Saada Saar points to three ways advocacy groups have identified the ads as selling children: the service providers (treatment centers), victims’ statements and research.
“We know from service providers who work with girl victims that there is a code used to denote that it is a very young girl. The code is ‘fresh,’ ‘young,’ ‘new to town,’” Saada Saar tells HUMAN EVENTS.
“The other way that we know this, is on the basis of girl survivors themselves talking about what they were made to do by the pimps,” she says.
One survivor of Craigslist sex trafficking wrote an open letter to Craig under the alias “MC.” She writes that her pimp’s “house was called ‘Daddy Day Care.’ All day, me and other girls sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist.”
“He made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car,” writes “MC”.
Also the Georgia Demand Study by the Shapiro Group demonstrated that Craigslist was used three times as much for advertising sex with girls as the competitors like Backpage and Erotica.
“They were able to interview the individuals who were trying to make the purchase,” Saada Saar says of the study. “And they said, ‘Do you know that the individual you are purchasing is under the age of 18? And in 47% of the cases, the individuals still went through with the transaction.”
Craigslist took down its profitable Adult Services section last week after 20 states’ attorneys general threatened legal action.
Connecticut Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal wrote a letter to Newmark calling “the ads for prostitution—including ads trafficking children” which are “rampant” on the site must be stopped. “We recognize that Craigslist may lose the considerable revenue generated by the Adult Services ads,” the letter said.
Craigslist’s Increasing Profits From Sex Ads
The company will generate at least $44 million—30% of the total revenue—from its “thinly disguised advertising for prostitutes,” according to a report by the independent AIM Group consultants.
Craigslist projected revenue of $122 million grew an astounding 22% this year after doubling the Adult Services ad rates from $5 to $10 in May.
Saada Saar’s organization is non-partisan, but she says all the politicians should return donations from Newmark.
“It is tainted money, it is money that is connected to child prostitution and sex trafficking,” Saada Saar.
“Give it to an anti-trafficking organization or more importantly give it to the very few safe-haven programs we have for trafficked girls,” she recommends for the politicians.
Democrats Who Accepted Campaign Donations from Craig Newmark:
President Barack Obama—Keeping the money?
Obama accepted five donations from Newmark to his presidential campaign (total $4,600) and $5,000 to his Hope Fund PAC for a total of $9,600. Calls to the White House and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were not returned.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—Keeping the money?
Pelosi received $500 from Newmark in 2009. The speaker of the House must be very confident in her re-election campaign because she does not have a campaign office in her home district or a campaign manager. Her campaign is run out of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C.
When asked if the speaker will be returning the money from Newmark, Pelosi’s political director at the DCCC Jennifer Creider said, “I’ll have to look into that and get back to you.” She never called back.
Democratic National Committee (DNC)—Keeping the money?
The Democratic Party is by far the largest recipient of Newmark’s cash. The DNC has accepted four donations totaling $30,500 from the Craigslist founder. The DNC did not respond to this investigation.
Democratic National Campaign Committee (DCCC)—Keeping the money?
The House Democrats have accepted four donations from Newmark, totaling $11,500.
“We’re not going to get into that,” responded DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer said about the charges that Democratic campaigns accepted money made from child prostitution.
Asked if we should then assume that the House Democrats were keeping the money, Rudominer said, “I’ll have to get back to you on that” and hung up the phone.
Sen. Al Franken (D- Minn.)— Decision pending.
Franken received two donations to his Senate campaign (total $1,500) and three donations to his leadership political organization, the “Midwest Values PAC” ($1,500) for a total of $3,000.
Thomas Borman, the treasurer for both Franken’s campaign and PAC, told HUMAN EVENTS that “we probably will” return the money. Borman said that “it sure feels like we ought to be giving the money back” but he did not want to make a final decision without talking to his political director. Borman did not respond to several follow up calls about his final decision.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D- Calif.)—Keeping the money?
The House Democrats have accepted four donations from Newmark
Boxer received two donations totaling $2,000 from Newmark. An assistant to Boxer’s campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski called to say that the campaign would call back again with a response. We’re still waiting.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D- Ill.)—Keeping the money?
Durbin received two donations totaling $1,000. Durbin’s senate office said the campaign’s fundraiser Nancy Kohn would make decisions on donations. Kohn did not return several calls.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska)—Keeping the money?
Begich has accepted a donation of $500 from Newmark. Calls to his offices in D.C. and Anchorage were not returned.
Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio)—Giving the money to charity.
Kilroy received three donations from Newmark for a total of $1,250.
“She will be returning the money,” her spokesman Brad Bauman tells HUMAN EVENTS in response to our investigation.
Bauman says that Kilroy’s campaign will donate the full amount of Newmark’s money to a charity that focuses on child trafficking.
Rep. George Miller (D- Calif.)—Keeping the money?
Miller received a donation of $1,000 in June. Calls to both Miller’s campaign and congressional offices were not returned.
Rep. Mark Schauer (D-Mich.)—Keeping the money?
Schauer accepted a $500 donation in March. Neither Schauer’s campaign manager Andrew Piatt nor his campaign spokesman Zack Pohl returned repeated calls.
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D- Calif.)—Keeping the money?
McNerney has taken three donations from Newmark, totaling $1,000. The campaign spokesperson Sarah Hersh did not return calls. The campaign office refused to give out the name of his campaign manager.
HUMAN EVENTS Investigation Continues…
The Craigslist corporate headquarters in San Francisco is in Rep. Jackie Speier’s (D- Calif.) district. She has called the company an “enabler for underage sex transactions.”
Speier will join Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D.-N.Y.), Ted Poe (R.-Tex.) and Christopher Smith (R.-N.J.) at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Wednesday on domestic minor sex trafficking.
While Newmark has refused to comment about his profiting from child sex trafficking, Craigslist’s William “Clint” Powell will be testifying to the committee about the controversy.
HUMAN EVENTS will continue to investigate if any more of these politicians return Craig Newmark’s tainted money.