Arizona Democratic Party Still Retaining Money From Website Linked to Child Prostitution

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and Rep. John Barrow / Getty Images

The Arizona Democratic Party has yet to give away the $40,000 it received from the owner of Backpage.com, a website linked to child prostitution.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) donated the cash she received from Backpage.com's Michael G. Lacey earlier this year, and National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Katie Martin said Sinema should speak up about the money her party still retains.

"Kyrsten Sinema should do the right thing and call on the Arizona Democratic Party to return the $40,000 they received from backpage.com," Martin said. "It’s an easy choice between right and wrong, so why won’t Sinema speak up?"

In the midst of the controversy, which involved the website running hundreds of prostitution advertisements that included ones for child sex trafficking, Lacey made multiple contributions to Democrats. He donated to Democrats at the state and federal levels, and his total contributions reached six figures.

He donated to Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia in 2014, the year after Backpage.com caused the National Association of Attorneys General to call on Congress to amend laws to hold websites of the sort accountable for enabling child prostitution.

Garcia also donated the money he received from Lacey after the Washington Free Beacon reported the contribution in April.

Then California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who now serves as a Democrat in the Senate, described Backpage.com as "purposefully and unlawfully designed" as an online brothel. The website claimed not to control advertisements, but internal emails show they had edited them and were aware of possible infringements of the law.

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) is a bill in Congress intended to crack down on sites like Backpage.com, and was put on hold by Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) in November.