WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing titled “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking.” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, had this to say regarding the hearing:
“I would like to thank Chairman Portman and Ranking Member McCaskill for holding this important hearing. Over the past year and a half, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has worked diligently to investigate human sex trafficking on the Internet. I commend both Chairman Portman and Ranking Member McCaskill for their tireless work in pursuing this investigation and uncovering the information presented today.
“Our committee has a long history of investigation and bipartisanship. Both are on display here. Last February, this committee unanimously approved a resolution to enforce the subcommittee’s subpoena for information. Then the full Senate unanimously approved it. The information turned over pursuant to that subpoena was instrumental in allowing the subcommittee to complete its investigation. This is an example of what we can achieve when we find areas of agreement.
“The findings presented today will help Congress better understand some of the reasons for the proliferation of sex trafficking in the digital age. I appreciate the powerful testimony from the family members of the victims of online sex trafficking. Thank you for telling your stories. I hope this investigation and today’s hearing are just the first steps in developing legislative proposals to combat this scourge.”
The committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations subpoenaed Backpage.com in 2015. Because of the company’s refusal to comply with the subpoena, Sen. Johnson, as chairman of the full committee, filed a resolution to hold the company’s CEO in contempt. This resolution passed the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee 15-0 on Feb. 10, 2016. The Senate passed a civil contempt resolution 96 to 0 to authorize the lawsuit against Backpage.com.