Capitol Alert

Campaign watchdog investigates porn industry over alleged foreign donations

The Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating the porn industry in response to a complaint alleging that it accepted foreign money to oppose a November ballot measure requiring actors to wear condoms in adult films.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed the complaint, which alleges that the “No on Proposition 60” committee accepted $75,000 in foreign contributions from seven different shell companies on Sept. 2. The committee is sponsored by the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult film industry.

The AIDS foundation said six of the companies also failed to file 24-hour disclosure reports with the state.

Foreign entities are banned from contributing money to candidates, committees, ballot measures or any other state or local political campaign.

The AIDS foundation alleged that the “likely controlling entity of the seven” companies is a company based in the United Kingdom called Global Personals Ltd. A website for Global Personals says the company is based in Windsor and “provides hundreds of thousands of people around the world with a portfolio of niche online dating and lifestyle sites.” In state filings, the companies named in the complaint said they were based in Miami.

Mike Stabile, a spokesman for the No on 60 campaign, said the AIDS foundation is confusing two different companies that have no connection or relation to one another. He said Global Personals LLC based in Miami contributed to the campaign, not Global Personals Ltd. from the UK.

“It seems that they didn’t do their homework,” Stabile said. “They aren’t owned by the same companies. They don’t work together.”

A website for Global Personals LLC says it also offers online dating sites. Each company says it was founded in 2003. Global Personals could not be reached for comment.

The FPPC opened the investigation less than a year after the industry agreed to pay a $61,500 fine for illegally accepting donations from foreign entities in its effort to oppose a similar 2012 Los Angeles County ballot measure to require adult film actors to wear condoms. At the time, the FPPC said the industry illegally took $343,000 in donations from foreign companies.

“One again, foreign influences affiliated with the adult film industry in general, and the Free Speech Coaltion in particular, appear to be laundering foreign money into California in an effort to illegally influence elections,” wrote Whitney Engeran-Cordova, a senior director for AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s public health division, in the FPPC complaint.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 5:18 p.m. Sept. 30, 2016 to include a response from Stabile.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna