The following statement in response to donations made by political campaigns to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence (ACESDV) should be attributed to ACESDV.
The ACESDV is committed to ending sexual and domestic violence in Arizona by dismantling oppression and promoting equity among all people. We take our work with coalition members and service providers very serious, and the support we provide to victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence is our number one priority.
Recently, the ACESDV accepted charitable donations from multiple political campaigns that received contributions from Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the founders of backpage.com. Lacey and Larkin have been criminally charged with their roles in facilitating the sex trafficking of minors via Backpage.
We neither sought out these donations nor did they come to us directly from backpage.com or its founders. The donations were made from campaigns where original intent of the money was to further the purposes of backpage.com; by diverting the funds to a non-profit like ACESDV, the campaigns are ensuring that doesn’t happen and that instead the funds are put to a use that will be contrary to their original purpose.
The ACESDV is uniquely positioned to do this. We plan to use these funds to broaden our prevention and awareness efforts around sexual violence and sex trafficking in our state. Specifically, we will use these funds to support an awareness campaign specifically targeting those most at risk of being victimized and exploited: youth of color, Native American youth, LGBTQ+ individuals, individuals with disabilities, and individuals who are undocumented. Our work stretches all across Arizona, from rural to urban communities, and as a statewide non-profit organization that depends on donations, we do not have the privilege of refusing funding that enables the turning of a wrong into a right.
We look forward to working with our community partners, leaders, and others who share the urgency we have to meaningfully address the issue of sexual violence, including trafficking, especially among our most vulnerable communities.