Adult website operator among Rand Paul donors

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Associated Press

Posted on August 20, 2010 at 7:00 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Republican Rand Paul's campaign for Senate in conservative Kentucky wouldn't say Friday whether it will return money from a donor who runs an adult website featuring photos of lingerie-clad and nude women.

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.

Banister told The Associated Press 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's photos show women posing in little — or nothing — and are described by the website as works of art.

Paul is relying on solid support from conservative voters in his hotly contested race against Democrat Jack Conway.

"A lot of Kentuckians would have a problem with a candidate accepting money from organizations that are tearing down the culture," said Martin Cothran, a policy analyst for The Family Foundation of Kentucky. "And we assume that the Paul campaign understands that."

Cothran said candidates have very little control over who supports them, but added: "You do have control over who you accept money from. We assume that when the Paul campaign finds out about this, they'll return that money."

Paul's campaign issued a statement saying the Republican candidate — a father of three boys and husband of a church deacon — condemns pornography and considers it degrading to women. The campaign said 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."

Conway's campaign declined comment.

The San Francisco-based adult social network website started by Banister and her husband, Scott, serves up racy photos of women for $12-a-month subscribers. The site's home page features a smiling woman in her underwear with a laptop.

In Pennsylvania, the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Pat Toomey confirmed that it received a $4,800 contribution from Scott Banister in November 2009.

"We have over 50,000 individual donors," Toomey campaign spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said. "Many of those supporters do not agree with Pat on every issue, but they tend to share his belief that the government in Washington is too big, it taxes too much, and it is sticking future generations with far too much debt. We're happy to have those supporters, even if we differ on some issues."

Cyan Banister said in an e-mail that she was drawn to Paul's libertarian views, a philosophy shared by his father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, whom Banister also supported financially during his unsuccessful presidential run as a Republican in 2008.

"My point of view is that our country is in danger of losing some of its most valued freedoms," she said in the e-mail. "The Pauls have strong values that resonate with mine. I believe they support limited government, tax reform, are against nationalized health care."

Zivity describes itself on its blog as "full of hot awesome," and says it has 64,000 subscribers.

Cyan Banister said the website's photos range from fashion to "art nude."

"It is a celebration of the human body, specifically female," she said.

She said she contributed to Rand Paul because "I want to help our country recover."

Asked whether her support could backfire on Paul in Kentucky, she replied: "I don't wish to hurt his campaign and would withdraw my contribution if that was the outcome. That was never our intent."

Meanwhile, Rand Paul was plying the Internet for campaign cash as part of a two-day fundraising pitch that began Thursday. Paul had raked in more than $155,000 by early Friday afternoon — money the Paul campaign has said would be invested in television ads.

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Associated Press Writers Janet Blake in Louisville and Peter Jackson in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report.

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