• Florida tax dollars going to company with possible connection to sex trafficking

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Florida tax dollars are going to a company with possible connections to sex trafficking.

    Now Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is asking the state Department of Management Services to evaluate whether that should continue.


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    “It kind of alarms me a little bit,” said Alyssa Beck, who escaped from sex trafficking when she was 15.

    Now she advocates for other survivors.

    She said many of those survivors were trafficked using the website Backpage.com.

    The feds seized the website last year as part of an investigation into sex trafficking.

    “Backpage has robbed so many of my friends of their innocence and things that they’ll never be able to get back,” Beck said.

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    Fifty sex trafficking survivors nationwide, including a Jacksonville woman, are now suing a contractor of Backpage called Salesforce, Inc.

    It’s a company the state of Florida also does business with through a third party, according to Florida Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter

    The lawsuit said Salesforce “manag[ed] marketing campaigns to traffickers and pimps for BackPage,” among other accusations.

    “The complaint alleges that SalesForce formed basically the backbone of BackPage.com’s sex trafficking business,” said Moody in a letter to Florida Department of Management Services Secretary Jonathan Satter. “If true, the allegations in the complaint raise serious concerns regarding Florida’s relationship with Salesforce.”

    So how do your tax dollars figure into this?

    In Satter’s response to Moody, he wrote the Department of Management Services “contracted with a third-party developer that provides a package of both software development and licenses utilizing the Salesforce platform” for its state employee travel management system.

    “As a survivor, I feel angry in a way that now I work fulltime, I pay my taxes, I do everything right. And even doing the right thing sounds like it’s still contributing to the very thing that took so much from me before,” Beck said.

    Satter said he has asked Salesforce for clarification on its relationship with Backpage. 

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