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suspected anti-LGBT investors in Pride Media still darting through the Internet, Levin has tried to be transparent by responding to media inquiries, including several long interviews with the Los Angeles Blade. Regarding being a big Republican donor, Levin laughs. “I’d have to make big Republican donations to be a big Republican donor,” he says. Indeed, a scroll through shows that he has donated to a handful of Republicans but mostly to Democrats. Ironically, one donation in 2013 was to Republican Rep. Devin Nunes and another to Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, now famously on opposite sides of the House Intelligence Committee. “I probably identify with [out newly elected Colorado governor] Jared Polis as much as any politician,” Levin says. “He’s pro-business, he has Jewish values and he’s pro-Israel.” When pressed, Levin says he personally identifies as a political “centrist.” His donations to Republicans were a result of his membership several years ago in a proIsrael AIPAC Leadership Training Initiative (LTI), which encourages “relationships with politicians on both sides of the aisle.” It is an

“unwritten expectation” that when LTI hosts candidates, “you support the candidates that attend as part of the LTI training program.” He didn’t realize some of the candidates had antiLGBT records until the backlash. “I, obviously, should have investigated all of them better.” In fact, Dana Rohrabacher’s name came up so persistently during the backlash resulting from the WWD story, he checked it out himself. “I even confirmed,” that he had not contributed, Levin said, “because everyone kept saying it so I was like, did I miss something? No, absolutely no.” Rohrabacher was in the High Times 100 issue, however, for the now-dethroned Republican’s support for cannabis. There are a number of other rumors Levin wants to dispute, starting with that debt question that led to concerns about how he would pay for the next iteration of the brands. “The acquisition of High Times was structured as a leveraged buyout that provided the sellers convertible debt that converts upon the IPO, which is expected to happen in the near future,” Levin says. “Pride has no convertible debt and the capital structure is very clean and simple.” “A majority of the board are members of

the LGBT community,” he says. He added that the rumor that right-wing Republican billionaire Ken Fisher is 40 percent investor is inaccurate. “I do not know Ken Fisher,” Levin says. “There are members of the Fischer family who are shareholders” but they are no relation to Ken Fisher.   “I have zero intentions of combining High Times and The Advocate, OUT or any of the other media properties that I may buy in the future. I think The Advocate and OUT need their own voice,” he says. “And there’s synergies, absolutely there’s synergies. And there’re opportunities for companies to work together but I’m not combining them.” Levin laughs thinking people posit him as a kind of Rupert Murdock-wannabe. “Listen, I’m someone who invests in media properties. I love that people think I’m building an empire, candidly, but I’m an entrepreneur who likes communities and right now, I’m really focused on Pride and High Times. And I have a company called Boxlight that’s an education company,” he says. “The Advocate and OUT are media properties that matter to the community. And that’s the value of the brand, of the heritage, of the history. What was attractive


to me was the community around OUT, the community around the Pride Media brands. “There’s a stickiness,” he says. “They’re media properties that people care about. And in today’s competitive media landscape, I thought there was a real opportunity to reinvent the brands and create compelling content that would allow the brands to thrive for many years to come—in print and online and other mediums and platforms, as well. These are properties people have grown up with. “I believe strongly that print is not dead,” Levin continues. “When you’re trying to target and reach and market to a niche demographic, print is very much alive.” Levin says the purchase of The Advocate and OUT was not only a business decision but personal. “I am very close to Pride Media today and see the traction and the momentum of what we’re doing and I think it did take someone to shake up the brand … I’ve invested my own money in common stock of the company. I have family members, close family members who are LGBT. I don’t want to let them down.”

Profile for Los Angeles Blade, Volume 2, Issue 37, November 16, 2018, Volume 2, Issue 37, November 16, 2018, Volume 2, Issue 37, November 16, 2018, Volume 2, Issue 37, November 16, 2018