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Mitt Romney makes a financial friend in sex-industry donor

Picture 5The Daily Beast just noted an irony in a Business Week story about Mitt Romney, who needs someone "to insist that the millionaire GOP frontrunner is really just a man of the people. Instead, Daniel Staton, chairman of FriendFinder Networks Inc., has done just the opposite."

“It's kind of hard for Romney to come across being a regular Joe,”  Staton told Business Week. “But put him in a room full of 400 business guys that are all successful, that relate to him, he comes off beautifully.”

There's another interesting twist.

Straight-laced Romney appears to be taking money from one of the premier sex outfits on the Internet. FriendFinderNetworks owns Adult Friend Finder, a website that advertises "Meet Real Sex Partners Tonight!" It's not just in the web business, either. FriendFinderNetworks used to be called Penthouse Media Group, which owns the dirty mag of the same title.

The Boca Raton-based network isn't just porn. It has 47,000 in-network sites, its website says. And its owners  tried to make it big on Wall Street this May, according to an Ad Week piece that couldn't avoid the jokes in talking about the "smut peddler:"

Despite offering some fairly steamy content, the company that owns Penthouse magazine failed to generate much heat at its initial public offering yesterday. 

FriendFinder Network's stock opened at $10 a share on the Nasdaq, right in line with expectations but was unable to get it up above that. Toward the end of the day, the price had drooped 21 percent, according to the Associated Press.

The Boca Raton-based company's flagship website is the casual hookup network—which promises its members "Real People, Real Sex." It sells porn at its and sites. It also runs the kink property and, curiously, the Christian dating site

Staton's $2,500 donation to Romney isn't the only one he gave this cycle. He contributed the same amount to Jon Huntsman. Last election, Politico noted in 2010 that Staton's business Partner, Marc Bell, hosted a fundraiser for then Gov. Charlie Crist in his U.S. Senate bid. The story also noted that Bell had contributed in 2008 to Romney. It doesn't look like he did the same again this year.

The issue of sec-industry donors can be touchy in a Republican primary. Rick Scott had to fend off rival Republican Bill McCollum in the governor's race when Scott was accused of being linked to "porn" because he invested in the social networking site Quepasa, which partnered with Playboy Mexico.

Sex aside, the FriendFinderNetwork's owners are the typical Mitt Romney donors: They're venture-capitalists. The venue where Staton met Romney was about the least sexy of topics to the average joe: The Dodd-Frank Act, loathed by the high-finance set.