A political action committee formed to help elect Democrats to the House says it will no longer accept contributions from people associated with the company Backpage, an advertising business that has been under fire for allegations that it enabled prostitution and sex trafficking.
In October, Backpage founder James Larkin donated $10,000 to the House Majority PAC, and to several Democratic efforts in Arizona and Colorado, according to the elections clearinghouse website opensecrets.org.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post published a new exposé revealing more evidence that a contractor for Backpage was "aggressively soliciting and creating sex-related ads, despite Backpage's repeated insistence that it had no role in the content of ads posted on its site."
A statement from an official with the Democratic House Majority PAC seemed to imply that they weren't able to return the donations, but said it would no longer take money from the company.
"The contribution from James Larkin was received and spent during the 2016 election cycle," said Charlie Kelly, Executive Director of House Majority PAC, in an email to the Washington Examiner. "The allegations against Larkin are reprehensible, and HMP will not accept any future contributions from Larkin or his associates at Backpage.com."
The House Majority PAC has been an instrument for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to try to increase the Democrats' numbers in the lower chamber of Congress. The political action committee recently spent about $700,000 in the recent special election in Georgia, in which Democrats hoped to show they were gaining momentum against the Trump administration by plucking off a safe Republican seat. The efforts didn't pay off however, as the GOP kept the seat.
An investigation into the company by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was released earlier this year, finding that, "Backpage has maintained a practice of altering ads before publication by deleting words, phrases, and images indicative of criminality, including child sex trafficking."
This year, Rep. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., distanced her 2016 campaigns from donations received from Backpage founders by making an equal donation to a Phoenix group that works for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.