Backers of the November ballot initiative that would mandate condoms in porn are questioning the largest financial contributor to the adult business' opposition campaign.
That happens to be Manwin, a conglomerate based in Luxembourg perhaps best known for its takeover of Playboy TV and websites, its Brazzers videos and its free “tube” porn online. While the company, one of the most successful in the industry, is based in Europe, it also has a presence in L.A., Montreal and Hamburg:
Nonetheless, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is backing the pro-condom measure B, has reservations and allegations regarding its foreign base.
Manwin came in with the biggest donation for the industry's official No on Measure B campaign, according to public records. The company gave $75,000.
Here's what AHF, which has been trying for years to get porn to practice safe sex, said about that over the weekend:
The murky origin of the funds for the donation raises serious questions about money from a foreign porn cartel possibly being directed to an election campaign in the United States–an illegal act that constitutes a felony.
A Manwin rep told us previously that the company shoots in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami. The company found itself at the center of a porn HIV scare last year when a performer it had featured came up positive.
But Manwin noted — and this goes to the heart of the industry's campaign against mandatory condoms — that the performer tested positive and stopped performing immediately. In fact, the whole industry shut down. And it was revealed that the test was a false-positive. The performer was clean.
In other words, porn claims that testing works.
AHF has argued that several cases of HIV and a recent syphilis scare prove that it doesn't. The org wants porn to follow federal law, which prohibits exposure to blood-borne pathogens at the workplace.
AHF chief Michael Weinstein, meanwhile, weighed in on Manwin's big bet against its measure B:
It appears from our reading of the campaign finance filing and our own research that this money may have come from a company headquartered in Luxembourg that was then contributed to a U.S. political campaign, something that appears to be illegal. It's also noteworthy to point out that the multi-billion dollar porn industry–which claims that its very livelihood is threatened by this ballot measure–was only able to raise a little more than $100,000 for the opposition campaign. And of that amount, $75,000 may very well have come illegally from a foreign porn cartel.
The porn biz has made no secret of Manwin's support. In fact a press conference “to announce the endorsement of leading Los Angeles County business groups in opposition to Measure B” was held at Manwin's L.A. offices last month, according to a pro-B statement.
If the industry or Manwin responds to these allegations Monday, we'll let you know. In the meantime, you'll get to vote on mandatory condoms in porn on your L.A. county ballot next month.
[Update at 3:19 p.m.]: The No on Measure B campaign sent us this response to AHF's allegations:
The contribution in question came from a U.S.-based subsidiary of Manwin, which has offices around the world, including Los Angeles, which is perfectly legal.
The No on Government Waste Committee [which is affiliated with the anti-B campaign] has an ongoing investigation with the FPPC, noted its own filing of an official complaint to the state Fair Political Practices Commission when it felt it found violations in state campaign law, but failed to see any similar filings from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
We suggest the Yes on B campaign re-read the state campaign disclosure regulations next time.