Michael Weinstein: No on Measure B is a Campaign Cash Shell Game of Money Shuffling

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from www.laweekly.com – A week before the big election and the epic battle around here isn’t Obama versus Romney or Sherman versus Berman. No, it’s nasty versus safe sex.

Only in L.A. would one’s pornographic preference become a ballot issue for the ages.

The latest shot in the war over measure B, which would mandate condoms at most porn sets in L.A. county, is whether the anti-condom side took money illegally from a foreign company:

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which got measure B on the ballot, says it has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission charging that the largest contributor to the No on Measure B campaign is a foreign company.

That would be against the law.

However, the company in question, online porn juggernaut Manwin (of Brazzers fame), has offices in Burbank. (AHF tells the Weekly that principals in that office are foreigners who might not legally be able to contribute to American political campaigns).

The AHF says Manwin’s initial $75,000 contribution, the largest amount given to the No on Measure B camp, is illicit because it was given by “Froytal Services LTD, another Manwin-controlled entity based in Nicosia, Cyprus.”

The organization says the listing for the contribution changed from Manwin USA to Froytal just last week.

AHF chief Michael Weinstein says:

… It appears that this money from Manwin is quite likely an illegal campaign contribution from a foreign entity and foreign nationals and as such, we filed a formal complaint earlier today with the Federal Election Commission …

Weinstein accused the No on Measure B camp of embarking on a campaign cash “shell game … ”

… shuffling money around, or at least the reported source of the money. First it was $75K from Manwin. Then, a quick switch of the name of the donor from Manwin to the Cyprus-based Froytal Services LTD. Next, an additional $150K from Manwin was donated to the ‘No’ campaign on October 16; finally, the campaign also then paid $75K out to Froytal. This back and forth simply does not pass the sniff test and we urge investigators at the FEC to thoroughly investigate this matter.

AHF spokesman Ged Kenslea told the Weekly that he didn’t expect the FEC to take action before the election.

No on Measure B responded today by calling AHF’s allegations “baseless” and “idiotic” and saying this is “a shallow attempt to divert attention from the overwhelming community support building against Measure B … ”

The crux of the No side’s argument is that …

… a clerical error resulted in a contribution being misidentified as coming from Froytal Services LTD, when in fact it came from Manwin, USA, a U.S.-based firm registered in Delaware, RI. The error was corrected and all campaign disclosures were updated …

(It’s a strange argument given that the the amended filing or error, if you will, happened the other way around — after the seemingly more legal Manwin USA was credited with the contribution first. The amended filing added another $150,000 to the camp from Manwin USA, AHF says).

The No camp says that a contribution from Manwin USA would, in fact, be perfectly legal, since its a stateside subsidiary.

No on Measure B consultant James Lee noted that B had some momentum against it (the Los Angeles Times and the L.A. Daily News recently endorsed a no vote on the measure) and said AHF was …

… trying desperately to do anything to save what is arguably the dumbest initiative ever to make a ballot.

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