Zivity.com Owner Donates to Rand Paul Senate Race

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The adult entertainment industry is sometimes considered a bastion of libertarian thinking—populated as it is by so many independent-minded small business owners—so it may come as no surprise that at least one of its members has decided to send campaign contributions to Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for the Senate seat in Kentucky who is often labeled a libertarian. 

“Federal Election Commission records show that Cyan Banister, who founded California-based Zivity.com with her husband, contributed $4,800 to Paul earlier this year,” the Associate Press has reported. “Banister [said] in an e-mail Thursday that she sees Paul's limited government views as appealing, and said she likes his ‘strong values that resonate with mine.’”

Zivity.com, however, is not a hardcore porn site but a unique social networking platform, and can be considered to exist on the outskirts of the adult entertainment industry. In fact, the company has just partnered with Playboy on a series of photo shoot contests, which is significant because Playboy itself finds hardcore porn more or less anathema to its lifestyle brand, a position that founder Hugh Hefner has never had a problem articulating.

The Paul campaign has thus far declined to say whether it will keep the donation or return it, however, but the AP reported that it issued a statement stating the father of three boys and husband of a church deacon condemns pornography and considers it degrading to women. The campaign added that it “cannot be expected to run background checks on all 25,000 donors who share his stances on issues like balanced budgets, reduced federal spending, opposition to ‘Obamacare’ and the reckless behavior in Washington.”

The wire service also reported that a conservative family group, The Family Foundation of Kentucky, weighed in on the story. Martin Cothran, a policy analyst, said, “A lot of Kentuckians would have a problem with a candidate accepting money from organizations that are tearing down the culture, and we assume that the Paul campaign understands that.”

But then, Rand Paul is himself considered by some pundits to be on the outskirts of mainstream libertarianism, as evidenced here and here. Even Paul balks at ascribing the label to his positions.

In a sense, then, this is a tale about misapplied labels rather than the more salacious story that an already non-mainstream senatorial candidate is considering taking money from porn. Unfortunately, in taking the bait by issuing the denouncement about pornography, the Paul campaign took a big bite out an a very rotten apple, and reinforced the falsehood that any sort of nudity should be automatically equated with hardcore pornography, which, of course, is legal and constitutionally protected expression.

Just ask John Stagliano, a real libertarian and pornographer, as well as a member and major contributor to the Cato Institute.