Rep. Ann Wagner Asks for OnlyFans Investigation, Calls All Sex Work ‘Illegal’
WASHINGTON — Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), the religious-right Republican legislator who was the original drafter of FOSTA-SESTA, has released a letter to the Justice Department asking for an investigation into OnlyFans, claiming — without offering any clear evidence — that the platform has “become a major marketplace for buying and selling Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) in the United States, as well as soliciting sexual activity with minors.”
Wagner also penned an editorial for congressional news site Roll Call stating her opinion that all “sex work” (her quotation marks) is “illegal.”
“With the exception of seven counties in Nevada, prostitution is strictly prohibited throughout the United States,” the Missouri Republican stated. “Even within those seven counties, prostitution is highly regulated by the state government. Across the nation, states — both red and blue — have banned the sex trade because it is known to be abusive and exploitative, and harms the most vulnerable in our society.”
Wagner also deliberately misrepresented the impact of FOSTA-SESTA, claiming that it “has had a profound impact on the illegal, online sex trade.”
“In April 2018, when it was signed into law, the U.S. Department of Justice seized Backpage.com, the most prolific offender of online sex trafficking, and nine of the most-visited prostitution websites shut down out of fear of prosecution,” she added, even though Backpage was shuttered before the signing of FOSTA-SESTA by Donald Trump and its owners are not being charged under her bill.
FOSTA-SESTA’s impact on human trafficking investigations has also been demonstrably the exact opposite of what Wagner claims: in June, confirming what the vast majority of sex workers and advocates had warned about in 2017 and 2018, the FBI told the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that its “ability to identify and locate sex trafficking victims and perpetrators was significantly decreased following the takedown of Backpage.com.”
A Religiously Inspired Republican
Ann Wagner is a far-right conservative Missouri Republican in the House who introduced the bill she called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA).
Wagner is a lifelong anti-choice activist whose family has fought to keep abortion illegal for decades and who consistently conflates consensual sex work with “trafficking.”
“Ann has worked to defend the right to life from Nancy Pelosi and the liberal mob’s attacks,” reads her official biography. “She felt called to serve Missourians and her community, which is why she ran for Congress and won. In Congress, she has been a conservative fighter for our Christian family values.”
Wagner was an ardent anti-Trump Ted Cruz supporter until close to the 2016 election, when she announced she was supporting Trump.
FOSTA was combined with a similar project in the Senate, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), and the combined FOSTA-SESTA package passed the Senate in March 2018 and was signed into law by Donald Trump in April 2018.
Rep. Gosar Invokes ‘White Slavery’ Law
Wagner’s letter to the Justice Department was vocally endorsed by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), the Phoenix dentist most notable for being named by a right-wing political operator as having “worked… to plan pro-Trump rallies, including the one that ended with an attack on the Capitol,” and for being denounced by his own family as unfit for office.
“I teamed up with Rep. Ann Wagner and 100-plus colleagues on this bipartisan follow-up letter to the Justice Dept. regarding missing children and child exploitation associated with OnlyFans,” Gosar tweeted Tuesday.
He also included his own April letter denouncing OnlyFans, where he explicitly urged the DoJ to use a segregation-era law — passed a century ago allegedly to protect women from “white slavery” — against the popular premium fan site.
Main image: Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.)