House Republicans said that congressmen should return campaign donations from Craig Newmark, whose Craigslist derived money from prostitution and child sex trafficking.
“Witting or unwitting, if you are complicit with a gross evil—and this is a gross evil—and it enables modern day slavery in a very huge way,” Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) told HUMAN EVENTS. “You ought to just send it back and sever any ties whatever.”
Newmark has earned a lot of money off these ads, and has given over $84,000 to prominent Democrats. He had never donated to a Republican.
“I think it’s unwise to keep that money,” said Ted Poe (R-Tex.)
In the wake of Craigslist’s making $44 million this year from illegal sexual commerce, HUMAN EVENTS launched an investigation to determine which Democratic politicians and political organizations would return Newmark’s tainted donations. So far, only Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s has said she will be giving Newmark’s donation to a human trafficking focused charity.
When asked what President Obama and Speaker Pelosi should do with Newmark’s cash, Smith said that “they should send it back immediately.”
Poe praised Kilroy’s idea to give the Craigslist money to a charity fighting child trafficking.
“If we can take money from those who have inadvertently helped the people who trafficked,” Poe said. “We can take their money and use it for children, their resources and care. That’s a good use for that money.”
Smith, Poe and Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D.-N.Y.) and Jackie Speier (D.-Calif.) testified before a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday on domestic minor sex trafficking and the role of Craigslist in the illegal business.
HUMAN EVENTS asked the members of Congress who testified against child trafficking what they think politicians should do with the money from Newmark.
While the Republicans felt strongly that the Craigslist political donations should be returned, Speier refused to take a position on the political donations.
“That’s a decision every individual member will have to make,” Speier told HUMAN EVENTS when asked about what Democratic members of Congress should do with political donations from Craig Newmark.
Although Speier has called the company an “enabler for underage sex transactions,” she praises Craigslist’s benefit to online commerce. The company is based in her district in San Francisco. Speyer’s representative said he did not know if Newmark is a constituent.
Meanwhile, on Thursday night, Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate and current state Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal welcomed President Obama, a recipient of Newmark’s donation, to Connecticut for political fundraisers.
Blumenthal has been the national leader of law-enforcement pressure on Craigslist. On August 24, Blumenthal sent a letter on behalf of 17 other state attorneys general to Newmark, which said: “The increasingly sharp public criticism of craigslist’s Adult Services section reflects a growing recognition that ads for prostitution—including ads trafficking children—are rampant on it.”
Craigslist’s projected revenue of $122 million in 2010 grew an astounding 22% this year after doubling the Adult Services ad rates from $5 to $10 in May. The company will generate at least $44 million from its “thinly disguised advertising for prostitutes,” according to a report by the independent AIM Group consultants
Blumenthal—well aware that Craigslist earns 30% of its company revenue from these adult ads—wrote to Newmark that: “We recognize that craigslist may lose the considerable revenue generated by the Adult Services ads. No amount of money can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution, and the suffering of women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by craigslist.”
So, although Blumenthal claimed last week a victory for Craigslist shutting its sex ads, he seemed to disregard the fact that Obama is keeping political donations from Newmark.
Obama spoke at a fundraiser for Blumenthal Thursday evening. The event cost $1,000 per person to attend at a Marriott in Stamford, Conn. Meanwhile, Obama has $9,600 of Newmark’s tainted money in his campaign coffers (five donations to his presidential campaign totaling $4,600 and $5,000 to his Hope Fund PAC). Obama has refused to return the dirty money. Blumenthal’s campaign did not return calls for comment.
Afterwards, Obama attended a $30,000 per-ticket dinner at a private estate in Stamford which raised money for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Again, Blumenthal blatantly disregarded that the Democratic Party is the largest recipient of Newmark’s cash. The DNC has accepted four donations totaling $30,500 from the Craigslist founder. The DNC has refused to return the money or give it to charity.
In addition to giving money to Obama and the DNC, the Craigslist founder gave to:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) – $500
Democratic National Campaign Committee (DCCC) – $11,500
Sen. Al Franken (D- Minn.) – $3,000
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D- Calif.) – $2,000
Sen. Dick Durbin (D- Ill.) – $1,000
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) – $500
Rep. George Miller (D- Calif.) – $1,000
Rep. Mark Schauer (D-Mich.) – $500
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D- Calif.) – $1,000
Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) – $500
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D- Pa.) – $500
Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) – $500
Child trafficking advocates and members of Congress at the hearing called on Craigslist to permanently take down its profitable Adult Services section. A Craigslist official, William “Clint” Powell, finally announced that the site was being removed permanently from the U.S. site, but the ads for sex with young girls are still up on Craigslist international sites.