The AIDS Healthcare Foundation says the No On Measure B campaign took $220,000 total from the mostly online juggernaut known as Manwin, months before one of its principals, Fabian Thylmann, was arrested in Brussels based on allegations of tax cheating in Cologne, one of the company's home bases (besides L.A.):
The foundation spearheaded the L.A. county ballot measure, ultimately approved by voters last month, that mandates condoms in porn.
The industry opposed the measure via the No campaign, and Manwin was its biggest backer.
Today the foundation is asking the No camp to give the cash back.
The AIDS Healthcare folks had previously filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Manwin is a foreign company and therefore ineligible to contribute to an American ballot campaign.
(The industry says that Manwin is multinational, with a strong American presence in Burbank).
Today the AHF sent a letter to Diane Duke, chief of the industry lobbying group known as the Free Speech Coalition:
The purpose of this letter is to request that you return $220,000 in contributions to your committee, ostensibly given by a group named "Manwin USA." Given the history of the foreign-owned Manwin group, and the current tax evasion issues facing Fabian Thylmann, Manwin's founder, and the previous return of a contribution to your committee by what appears to be a foreign subsidiary of Manwin, these contributions are of suspect provenance, and likely may be from foreign sources. As you know, such contributions, if from foreign sources, would violate California election and campaign laws.
The Foundation continues to argue that Manwin is a foreign company based in Luxembourg.
Manwin is home to the "porn tube" sites, like YouPorn, that offer free smut ostensibly uploaded by users. Some have noted that this might undermine the L.A. porn industry, but the company and its cash appear to have been welcome by adult-biz leaders.