At best, Nancy Pelosi’s October 2016 acceptance of a $10,000 check from James Larkin, a co-owner of Backpage.com, was extremely careless. At worst, she knew and didn’t care. Either way, it’s time for Pelosi to do the right thing and finally wash her hands of this dirty money.
Backpage.com has long been one of the most evil sites on the internet. For years, it knowingly facilitated prostitution and sex trafficking of children. Backpage was purposely filtering out certain words in web ads to help traffickers evade authorities. Now, as this has come to light, Backpage is facing increasing pressure from law enforcement agencies across the country.
In fact, just one week before donating to Pelosi’s Super PAC, Larkin was charged in California on conspiracy to commit pimping. Larkin still faces counts of money laundering, and is surely hoping Backpage’s $200,000 in contributions to Democrats will give him political protection. That’s why Pelosi’s refusal to unequivocally renounce Backpage by donating or returning this money is so troubling. There are many California victims’ rights groups that could do a lot of good with $10,000.
Because the truth is we’re still far from putting an end to this form of modern slavery. Despite some important progress, human trafficking is still considered the fastest-growing crime in the world. Tens of millions of lives have been devastated around the globe — including far too many right here in Southern California.
As representative to California’s 39th District, I’m proud to help lead the fight to protect our most vulnerable. In 2013, I launched a human trafficking advisory committee comprised of victims’ rights groups, local and federal law enforcement agencies, and community advocates to better share information and coordinate on solutions. Later that year, we held a field hearing at Cal State Fullerton for the public to hear directly from victims. And our work continues. Two months ago, we again hosted a…