Michael Weinstein Wants FSC to Give back $220K of Manwin Donations on Measure B

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AIDS Healthcare Foundation put this announcement ou today. And, guess what? They still can’t write a decent press release.

LOS ANGELES — Officials from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and other backers of the victorious Ballot Measure B, the ‘County of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act’—which now requires porn producers to obtain public health permits and use condoms in their films—are stepping up their call for the campaign against the measure to return illegal contributions of $220,000 to the failed effort to defeat the law made by Manwin, a foreign porn cartel based in Luxembourg.

The call comes on the heels of news of the arrest and jailing in Germany of Manwin’s Fabian Thylmann on tax evasion charges.

Throughout its victorious campaign for ‘Yes on B,’ backers of the measure filed formal complaints with both California’s Fair Political Practices Commission’s Enforcement Division (FPPC) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over suspected illegal donations from Manwin, a foreign porn cartel that was the largest single donor to the ‘No’ campaign.

“It appears that Manwin’s Fabian Thylmann, a foreign tax-cheat who until recently was being held in jail in Germany on tax evasion charges bankrolled the opposition to Measure B, the porn safety law recently passed by an overwhelming majority of Los Angeles County voters in the November election,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and one of the five named proponents of the ballot initiative.

“We suspected that donations to the ‘No on B’ campaign from Manwin throughout the election campaign raised serious questions about money from a foreign porn cartel being given to an election campaign in the United States—an illegal act that constitutes a felony.

“Now, with his arrest and detention in Germany on charges of tax evasion—the first cousin of money laundering—we are renewing our demand that the ‘No on B’ campaign return at least $220,000 in political contributions that appear to have been made illegally by Manwin.”

The demand was made in a letter sent to Diane Duke, head of the adult industry trade group, the Free Speech Coalition, and who serves as treasurer of the ‘No on Government Waste, No on Measure B—major funding by Manwin USA’ committee that was signed by Miki Jackson, a citizen proponent of Measure B and a consultant to AHF. The letter states:

“The purpose of this letter is to request that you return $220,000 in contributions to your committee, ostensibly given by a group named “Manwin USA.”

Given the history of the foreign-owned Manwin group, and the current tax evasion issues facing Fabian Thylmann, Manwin’s founder, and the previous return of a contribution to your committee by what appears to be a foreign subsidiary of Manwin, these contributions are of suspect provenance, and likely may be from foreign sources. As you know, such contributions, if from foreign sources, would violate California election and campaign laws.”

The letter further noted:

“To the best of our understanding, Manwin is headquartered in Luxembourg. Through a holding company, it controls numerous enterprises throughout the world, including Cyprus-based Froytal Services, Ltd, and Manwin USA.

“As you may recall, in a Recipient Committee Campaign Statement, your committee listed an initial $75,000 contribution from Manwin USA. A subsequent amended Pre-election Statement appears to list that contribution as coming from Froytal Services, the Cyprus-based subsidiary. Finally, in a subsequent Statement, it was reported that the contribution now listed as coming from Froytal had been returned. However:

Another contribution in the amount of $150,000 was reported on October 16, 2012 from “Manwin USA” and logged on a Pre-election Statement filed on October 26, 2012. (CA form 460)

A similar Late Contribution Report filed on 11/01/12 reflects an additional $30,000 donation from Manwin dated 10/30/12 (CA form 467)

Ms. Duke, as you are also the head of the Free Speech Coalition, which has received major financial backing from Manwin entities, and as this Coalition also made a $40,000 contribution to your committee, we are equally concerned about the origin of that money.

(Late Contribution Report filed on 10/29/12 reflecting a $40,000 donation from the Free Speech Coalition to the ‘No on B’ committee made on 10/26/12).

After examining the legally required campaign finance reports covering campaign donations and expenditures filed with the Office of the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk and after doing additional background research on Manwin, it was clear to AHF that the bulk of the funding for the ‘No on Government Waste, No on Measure B-Major Funding by Manwin USA’ committee—came from a single donor, ‘Manwin USA,’ an arm of Manwin.

According to its website, “Manwin is an international information technology firm, specializing in highly trafficked websites. The company creates, develops and manages some of the most recognized mainstream and adult entertainment brands in the world…Headquartered in Luxembourg with management offices in Hamburg, London, Los Angeles, Nicosia, and Montreal, the company employs over 900 people.”

The letter asking the ‘No on B’ campaign to return Manwin’s illegal donations closed stating, “In order to ensure transparency and fairness in California’s electoral process, and to avoid any potential liability to your committee should it be confirmed that the Manwin USA donation is not in fact proper, we request that your committee return these contributions totalling $220,000 immediately.”

Ballot Measure B was spearheaded by AHF and members of FAIR (‘For Adult Industry Responsibility’) after as many as 22 HIV infections believed to be tied to the adult film industry were reported in two outbreaks in Los Angeles since 2004, and amidst thousands of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occurring annually among adult performers.

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