State Probes Alleged Foreign Donations in Porn

State Probes Alleged Foreign Donations in PornEXPAND
File photo by Star Foreman/L.A. Weekly

The state has opened an investigation into allegations that a foreign concern provided substantial financial backing for a failed adult-video industry campaign to defeat Los Angeles County's mandatory condoms-in-porn initiative. 

That's according to the Hollywood-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which says the California Fair Political Practices Commission informed it in a recent letter that its Enforcement Division is looking into the donations of porn company Manwin, which AHF says was based in Luxembourg when the adult-video industry fought unsuccessfully to defeat Measure B in 2012.

Overseas donations in campaigns are generally illegal.

"This investigation by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission of foreign money directed to 2012’s ‘No on B’ campaign is yet another confirmation of the complete lack of credibility that the porn industry has," says AHF president Michael Weinstein. "Keeping foreign money out of U.S. elections should be an extremely high principle. We were fortunate that L.A. County voters had the good sense to vote ‘Yes’ on Measure B, but under different circumstances, foreign money could tip the balance in a close U.S. election."

During the 2012 campaign, the AHF filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission outlining the same allegations — that online porn juggernaut Manwin, now MindGeek, gave $150,000 or more to the anti-condom campaign.

It was alleged that Froytal Services Ltd., a Manwin-controlled entity based in Nicosia, Cyprus, was behind the donations, which AHF says represented the largest portion of the anti-condom campaign's funding.

Adult video's advocacy group, Free Speech Coalition, said financial disclosure paperwork inadvertently listed Froytal instead of a Manwin U.S. operation. The organization noted that Manwin had subsidiaries in the United States, including offices in Burbank.

The FEC narrowly decided against investigating.

Free Speech Coalition argues that the most recent complaint is essentially a frivolous attempt to cast a cloud on the latest fight over condoms, this one involving a statewide initiative spearheaded by AHF.

AHF said last week that it has enough voter signatures, 371,000, to take its mandatory-condoms initiative to the November 2016 ballot in California. If passed, L.A. County's must-use prophylactic rule for porn stars would go statewide.

AHF says it will continue to gather signatures until a mid-September deadline.

State Probes Alleged Foreign Donations in PornEXPAND
File photo by Star Foreman/L.A. Weekly

Diane Duke, the Free Speech Coalition's CEO, said over the weekend:

Weinstein previously filed the same bogus complaint with the FEC. The complaint was easily dismissed.

Weinstein has had three years to file this complaint but is only doing so now, on the heels of his statewide ballot initiative, in hopes that it will negatively impact opposition to that initiative.

... I’ll be happy to speak with the FPPC should they contact me. I suspect, like the FEC, they’ll find the complaint baseless.

The porn industry says consumers don't want to see condoms and that its twice-a-month voluntary testing program for performers works. It has long threatened a production exodus to other states if mandatory prophylactics become the law in California. 

The AHF, of course, has said that this is about the health of performers and that federal law already prohibits employees from having to face blood-borne pathogens at the workplace. 

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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