As reported by Mark Kernes at AVN.com
LOS ANGELES—The efforts of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to have the Federal Election Commission (FEC) look at the funding for the adult industry’s “No on Measure B” campaign came to an end today as the Commission voted 3-3 along party lines not to extend the limitations on foreign corporations’ donations to political candidates’ races to the funding of state ballot measures.
While it’s unclear how long AHF has been pressing this issue before the commission, it made the news at the end of April, when the commission took an earlier vote on the issue, again splitting 3-3, with the Democrats (including Commission Chair Ann Ravel) supporting such limitations and the Republicans rejecting them.
As noted earlier, AHF had claimed that the reported $327,000 which adult conglomerate Manwin (now MindGeek) had allegedly donated to the “No on Measure B” campaign was an illegal contribution from a foreign corporation, with Manwin corporate headquarters being based in Luxembourg—ignoring the fact that Manwin/MindGeek does the majority of its production of adult material in California, with corporate offices in Burbank.
AHF had also pressed the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to open a similar investigation, but that commission has yet to issue a ruling on the complaint.
“On September 22 of this year, Ann M. Ravel, Chair of the FEC and one of the three who voted earlier to pursue an investigation, submitted a Memorandum to the FEC with the subject line, ‘State and Local Ballot Measures and the Ban on Foreign National Contributions’,” AHF stated in a press release issued yesterday. “The memo places the item on the formal Agenda for the FEC’s meeting taking place today, Thursday, October 1st at FEC Headquarters (999 E St., NW, Washington, DC 20463).
“In the Memorandum, Ravel wrote, ‘I have become increasingly concerned that there are not sufficient protections against foreign national involvement in national elections …The Commission recently considered a case where the facts demonstrated that a foreign national, a businessman who operates adult websites, contributed funds to oppose a Los Angeles ballot measure—the Safer [S]ex in the Adult Film Industry Act…’,” the release continued, referring to the formal name given to Measure B.
Ravel’s reference to Measure B may have had something to do with the fact that Ravel used to be the chair of the FPPC, and in that capacity may have dealt with AHF on other election matters. It is unknown if she has had any direct relationship to the group.
“The Federal Election Committee was established to protect the integrity of elections. Part of doing so is ensuring that our elections are free from foreign influence,” Ravel said at a public hearing, later adding, “Do we want Vladimir Putin or drug cartels to be influencing American elections? The commission shouldn’t.”
Republicans on the commission argued, however, that attempting to ban such contributions would exceed the commission’s authority.
“We don’t have some sort of a moral warrant to promote the good and stamp out the bad,” Republican commissioner Matthew Peterson said. “We are the Federal Election Committee that has a limited jurisdiction.”
In the end, the commission once again split along party lines to reject the ban, and it is unlikely that the issue will be brought up again in the foreseeable future. Of course, since Measure B passed despite its opponents’ best efforts, even if the commission had voted to create a rule under which Manwin/MindGeek could be censured, it is unlikely that such action would have had any substantive effect on the law or the company.