Sex Work

California Legislator Doubles Down on Dubious Child Prositution Claims

California Republicans risk being taken even less seriously.


California Republicans face a discouraging dilemma, as GOP numbers wither in the state Capitol. Democrats gained supermajorities in both houses of the legislature, which leaves the remaining Republicans virtually no power to stop anything and little more than a bully pulpit for their policies. How will they handle this bleak situation?

They have few good choices, but it's still hard to understand the approach taken by Assemblyman Travis Allen. The likable and normally low-key Huntington Beach Republican is trying out a new role as the legislature's bomb-thrower. He is getting widespread social-media attention for his latest article, but his over-the-top rhetoric may turn himself—and the party—into something taken even less seriously, and not just by Capitol Democrats.

Allen grabbed the spotlight in late December with a column in the Washington Examiner headlined, "California Democrats legalize child prostitution." This wasn't some headline writer's overstatement. Allen wrote, "Beginning on Jan. 1, prostitution by minors will be legal in California. Yes, you read that right. … So teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution."

The assemblyman argued that Senate Bill 1322 is part of "wave after wave of laws taking effect that are well-intentioned but disastrous embodiments of progressive utopianism." I'm no fan of progressivism and spend much of my time in Sacramento writing about the disastrous policies pushed by the majority party. But it might help Republicans' cause if they didn't misrepresent a reasonable law for some cheap partisan gain.

The Sacramento Bee ran a prominent piece declaring Allen's claim "misleading." "Those soliciting the sex and those arranging the clients can still be charged with crimes," wrote Christopher Cadelago. "People caught having sexual conduct with minors can be charged with penalties ranging from misdemeanors to felonies carrying life terms, depending on the ages of those involved and the individual circumstances of the offenses."

Politifact wrote that "Allen's specific claim, and the column in general, is grossly misleading. We rate Allen's claim Pants On Fire."

As I wrote for the San Diego Union-Tribune about a previous legislative effort, "Currently, these kids are arrested and thrown into the juvenile court system. The 'johns' typically receive a slap on the wrist. These legislators and activists want the children treated as victims, and provided with shelter and help, and the johns treated as sex predators." The law certainly could backfire, but its goal was not to "legalize" sex with minors. It's to focus prosecution on pimps and johns and get social service help for these kids, who are abuse victims.

"This bill creates a model for services provided… through the juvenile dependency and treatment process, rather reliance on the juvenile delinquency court system," according to the Senate bill analysis. "Providing services to sexually exploited minors more quickly and directly than under current practice may be effective."

The law passed mostly on a partisan basis, but it had the support of a small number of Republicans, including a former California Highway Patrol officer. Allen's column acknowledges the law is well-intentioned and makes some reasonable arguments, but the initial overstatement leaves readers with the wrong impression. Moreover, it led to a spate of overheated postings that went viral.

CalWatchdog detailed the backlash against, and quotes from the conservative RedState blog, which called the Allen piece an "unsubstantiated hot take" because of Allen's claim "law enforcement can't interfere with minors engaged in prostitution." But it's increasingly hard to disseminate facts in a world of narrative-driven commentary.

Allen has stood by his column. "The facts are absolutely clear," he told me. "The law that is now in place … is that prostitution (is) … no longer a crime for minors in California." He refers to the criticism of his piece as Democratic spin.

Allen's article was shared widely on Facebook, even from other California GOP legislators. It received TV attention on Fox News' Bill O'Reilly show. And his latest statement ups the ante. Regarding California Democrats' hiring of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to battle the Trump administration, Allen wrote: "The goal of the California Democrats is clear: an open border with no restrictions on human traffickers, gun runners and drug smugglers."

The Holder hiring is a farce, and I'm glad Allen will stand up to it—but is that really the goal of California Democrats? There's endless room for intelligent, principled and even defiant opposition to the state's progressive leadership. Throwing around such statements doesn't help the cause, although after the Trump victory it's easy to understand why Republicans might gravitate in this direction.

"It's inept, sophomoric thinking like this that has led the California Republican Party to the super-minority status that it enjoys today in the California Legislature," said Grant David Gillham, former policy director for Senate Minority Leader Rob Hurtt, R-Garden Grove, regarding the column. I tend to agree with Gillham. If the state GOP wants to be more relevant, it needs to be a lot more careful with its rhetoric.

NEXT: Arizona Republicans Demand a Safe Space from 'Social Justice' Classes at Public Colleges

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  1. Is it possible that California Republicans are moving on this because they’re getting indications from the Democratic side of the aisle that they’re amenable to it? Next thing you know, California Democrats will be demanding condom use in porn films– and consent decrees before two adults have sex.

    1. Enough with the silly hyperboli-…..what’s that? Oh, carry on then.

      Meet the new Puritanism, same as the old Puritanism.

  2. OT: Gene Cernan, last man on the moon has died.

    1. He must have been really lonely up there after all of those years.

      1. Heh, heh.

    2. We still have Bing Gordon

    3. Dammit. How many do we have left?

  3. So teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution.

    Normally one doesn’t use quite so overtly arresting children in a save-the-children plea.

    1. yup, yup good intentions and all that…road to hell….blah, blah, blah

    2. Yup. The quoted statement is literally true, and it should be. That he thinks it shouldn’t be is sad. But it can’t be called a lie.

  4. “…goal was not to “legalize” sex with minors. It’s to focus prosecution on pimps and johns and get social service help for these kids, who are abuse victims.”

    Yeah, let’s gloss over the fact the illegality of it all contributes to the majority of the actual abuse.

    And before anyone goes misinterpreting that, I’m not advocating child prostitution. I’m mearly saying when vice is criminalized it tends to bring out the worst in those who participate but cannot protect their business interests through legal channels. And as a result, you tend to get amoral people as the only ones willing to take on the risks of operation.

    However you feel about prostitution, the state’s method of fighting it has proven to be an ineffective failure for decades.

  5. kids fucked (literally & figuratively) film at 11:00

  6. “The goal of the California Democrats is clear: an open border with no restrictions on human traffickers, gun runners and drug smugglers.”

    And I bet he thinks Obama is a secret Muslim Kenyan who hates America.

    1. You left out “Communist.”

      1. And ‘fag.’

  7. I don’t know what it’s like to be a Republican in California– certainly not one trying to win office. I’m guessing the very tiny few that are bold enough to keep the (R) by their name are the crackpots who’re really committed. I’m guessing there are a few Democrats in the state legislatures which are nominal (R)s but couldn’t win an election with that.

    1. I have to assume that being a Republican in California is a lot like being one in Maryland; the Democrats occupy so much of the political spectrum that you kinda have to run to the hysterical right just to differentiate yourself. I lived in Maryland for decades, and had the opportunity to spend time at the Stonewall Democratic Club (NOT named for the NYC Gay bar). I saw people there who embodied every appalling southern redneck stereotype you ever saw out of Hollywood. Every. One. Any other State I had ever lived in, they would have been fringe-right Republicans … the sort Barry Goldwater was embarassed by. In Baltimore they were the backbone of the Democrat machine.

      P.S. do not EVER tell me that no vote fraud happens. I heard it discussed more than once. Not being an idiot, I kep my blinkin’ mouf SHUT.

    2. Even though they are far outnumbered, there are still 25 Republicans out of 80 members in the Assembly and 14 out of 40 in the Senate. They have pretty much zero power at the state level now and can’t win a statewide election without a movie star but they dominate local politics in many parts of the state. If you look at a map, the interior districts are almost all Republican. It’s sort of a microcosm of the US with the coastal populated areas dominated by Dems and the rural interior ares by the GOP. There’s a also still some pockets of conservatives in long time coastal Republican strongholds like Orange County and San Diego County although they aren’t as strong there as they once were.

      I live in downtown Sacramento. It’s as liberal as any big city in the state but head out a few miles into the smaller communities in Placer and El Dorado counties or up towards Redding or down into the San Joaquin valley and you’ll find some super conservative communities that feel more like Texas than California.

  8. Blah blah libertarians are pro-kiddie fuckers blah blah blah.

    Some important news: Draymond Green’s shoe tribute to MLK Get your fix while you can, racists, because your time will be over.

    1. If we sideline it, does that mean we’ll come back to it later? LIke when you stick your gum under the desk?

  9. Republicans have no statewide power whatsoever, and still the Democrats will blame ‘the Republicans’ And still, voters will eat it up, and continue to elect Democrats which are running the state into the ground.

  10. “It’s to focus prosecution on pimps and johns and get social service help for these kids, who are abuse victims.”

    Come on. You know that statement isn’t true. This kind of virtue signalling is why you guys are useless.

    1. They’re California Republicans… it’s all they’ve got.

      1. I was referring to the author of this piece, though Allen is also a liar.

        The societal myth is that the prostitutes are being forced to engage in prostitution. Everyone knows it’s not true, but proclaiming that you believe in it shows you are one of the Good People. In this area, deserves credit for telling the truth that, no, these women engage in the activity willingly, but I guess when it comes to 17 year olds, they are too afraid to say it.

  11. I’m against child prostitution, but I’m not sure how I feel about child “prositution.”

  12. The anti-sex plank is one of the only issues the Dems and Reps share, so I imagine it’s a rare issue on which a politician can appeal to voters in a state dominated by the opposite party.

  13. California Republicans risk being taken even less seriously.
    It is impossible to take ANY California politician less seriously.
    The sooner they secede the better. More jobs building yet another wall.

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  15. So, the bill legalizes child prostitution in California, but not trafficking, which the guy points out, and he is the bad guy?

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the bill, there is no reason to criminalize victimization, but what Allen said is literally true.

    If you want to make a libertarian dislike someone, telling us that a guy who speaks the truth is wrong for speaking the truth, is a poor way to go about it.

    1. I agree with the bill, there is no reason to criminalize victimization

      Who is the victim? The 15 yr old willingly selling it, or the poor dumb “john” who believed her (or him) when she said she was 18…

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  18. What if the John is also a minor?

    Does this mean Buffy can legally earn a little side money in Dad’s SUV out in the school parking lot?

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