“Congress hauled in Craigslist on September 15, 2010. There, feminists, religious zealots, the well-intentioned, law enforcement, and social-service bureaucrats pilloried the online classified business for peddling “100,000 to 300,000” underage prostitutes annually. Those same numbers had already inspired terrified politicians, who let loose hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade to prohibitionists bent on ending the world’s oldest profession. The Craigslist beat-down was absurdist theater. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking” culminated with the humbled attorneys from Craigslist announcing that they would close down their adult classified business. The First Amendment was shouted down in the name of children. Village Voice Media watched with more than passing interest. From its earliest days, the Village Voice has run adult classifieds. Today, those classifieds are hosted online at Having run off Craigslist, reformers, the devout, and the government-funded have turned their guns upon Village Voice Media. Solicited by advocates, such websites as Huffington Post and The Daily Beast and others in the mainstream media raised the alarm that America’s children have been enslaved in prostitution, thanks to the Internet. It is true that Village Voice Media has a stake in this discussion. But the facts speak for themselves.” – Tony Ortega, Village Voice Editor in Chief


Broadly speaking the legal world recognizes two types of criminal activity, crimes of passion, committed in the heat of the moment with little or no thought put into their commission, and premeditated lawbreaking. The latter, as evidenced by its very name, suggests a more considerate, deliberate crime and brings with it much stiffer penalties. It’s to the subject of premeditated crime we turn our attention with regards to Tony Ortega’s participation in the Backpage child sex trafficking scheme.

With the unprecedented trial of Backpage’s top crime bosses, James Larkin and Michael Lacey, slated to take place in a few months it’s worth looking at how prosecutors may choose to conduct their case.

In a classic mob crime family case, federal authorities tend to start with the lowest of the low and work their way up to the top. We’ve noted before that it doesn’t get much lower than Tony Ortega who acted as a more-than-willing mouthpiece, giving cover to the highly illegal enterprise Backpage engaged in over the horrific period of time it sought to make money off of unscrupulous pimps looking to exploit their victims for a fast buck.

Despite the obvious glee Tony Ortega seemed to take being a ‘bought and paid for’ apologist for Lacey and Larkin, Ortega’s role in all this can hardly viewed as a ‘crime of passion’ undertaken on a spur of the moment whim.

No, his decision to publicly stand up for the criminals, pimps and the unsavory assortment of lowlifes that made Backpage so profitable was nothing short of a premeditated move. He knew he was lying when he attempted to downplay the suffering of the many underage victims. He knew he was lying as he attacked the advocacy groups who were working to end human sex trafficking. And he certainly knew he was trying to pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes by attempting to re-cast Backpage as the underdog, beset by those compelled by a nothing more than a deep and abiding hatred of freedom of speech.

In the Backpage scandal, Tony Ortega may have been a lowly ‘yes-man’ but he knew exactly what he was doing. And the rest of us know exactly why he would sell himself to such a cause — because Tony Ortega has no ethical framework other than seeing himself get paid. Milking Backpage for every cent he could before the bank accounts were frozen by authorities, and a few kids happen to get raped in the process.

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