Stephanie Clifford considered running for Senate in 2009. Now she has even more support.
By Christy Smith-Sloman
You probably now know Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, as the porn actress who had an alleged affair with Donald Trump, and received $130,000 in hush money a month before the 2016 presidential election to keep mum. Exactly where that money came from played a major factor in the FBI’s raid of Trump attorney Michael Cohen‘s office, home, and hotel room last week. The latest cover of Time magazine features a wind blown, disheveled Donald Trump perched in the oval office amid rising flood waters. It is simply titled “Stormy.” Clifford is currently working with federal prosecutors on the case.
What many people don’t know is that Stormy Daniels is also a businesswoman, and seriously contemplated running for Senate in 2010 in her home state of Louisiana. She was picked by a group called Draft Stormy, a non-partisan grassroots movement in Louisiana to take on Republican incumbent David Vitter, who at the time was one of the strictest conservatives in Congress and ran on a platform of the importance of family values. He was also ensnared in a prostitution scandal when his name appeared on the clientele list of a Washington D.C. madam.
“I have no problem with what he’s done. My problem is that he’s a hypocrite.”
I interviewed Clifford for a Marie Claire article when she was considering that Louisiana Senate run in 2009. Her motivation was to defeat Vitter, but it wasn’t because Vitter allegedly spent time with prostitutes. “Who am I to judge someone’s sexual activity? What happens behind closed doors is somebody’s personal business,” Clifford told me. “On the flip side he’s so hard-core family values and he put his wife and kids out there saying he’s a Christian and family man. I have no problem with what he’s done. My problem is that he’s a hypocrite.” She also adamantly declared her distaste for “elected officials who have corrupted the political system.”
During the interview, Clifford came across as a head-strong business woman who was passionate about the economy, health care, taxes, child protection and sex education, and leaned toward the Libertarian party. She also expressed her admiration for Hillary Clinton. “I like Hillary. She’s a well-minded woman and she’s extremely knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects and carries herself with dignity,” Clifford said. “She knows when to be quiet and when to speak up. I really admire that trait in a person.”
Clifford knew that her background in adult films would affect how she is perceived, but she also believed it could work in her favor. “I have nothing to hide, I’m open and honest and there’s not going to be a sex tape of me,” she said, joking. “Well actually there is, about 150 of them.”
But her brief political career was still surrounded by drama. Months before I spoke with her, Clifford’s political advisor, Brian Walsh, had been walking his dog with his wife when his car, parked nearby, suddenly exploded. While it was never determined if the explosion was politically motivated, but Clifford said the incident wouldn’t scare her off from seeking office. “I hope someone is that interested in what I’m doing and that afraid that they would do that,” she said.
“I hope someone is that interested in what I’m doing and that afraid that they would do that.”
Around that time, Clifford was also arrested after an alleged domestic dispute with her then-husband Michael Mosny, which she explained this way: “We got into an argument over an income tax bill, he thought I paid, I thought he paid it. He slipped and called me the C-word and I smacked him one time in the face… He called the cops but didn’t talk to them, he hung up the phone but they came anyway. Charges were never filed.”
At the time of her would-be run, Clifford acknowledged that she didn’t have political experience. “I didn’t come from an Ivy League college, or a family with money. I wasn’t born into politics and I have no technical political training so on that side, no,” she said. “On the other side I will be completely honest and listen to the people.”
Clifford was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and in 1997, at the age of 18, she began stripping at an upscale cabaret there called The Gold Club. She went on to become a featured dancer and traveled to perform in clubs across the country. “It was exhausting but exciting,” she remembered. “I was practically living in my SUV.”
In 2002, she settled in Los Angeles. “Right after that I landed my first gig. A girl on girl role. I did more girl on girl work for a few months. After that I was cast as the lead in Heat, a Southern gothic thriller by Wicked Pictures,” she said. “Then Wicked Pictures offered me a contract.”
Clifford would eventually write, direct, produce and star in hundreds of adult films, including “Operation Desert Stormy.” “I play this CIA agent who is always fighting with my husband and accidentally gets thrown into this mission in Iraq,” said Clifford. “I end up saving the world from terrorism by accidentally killing Sadam Hussein.” She was inducted into the Adult Video News (AVN) Hall of Fame in January 2014 after receiving numerous awards.
Clifford said she ultimately dropped out of the Senate race because she didn’t have the money to run — and Vitter ended up winning a second term despite his scandal. His wife, Wendy Vitter, has now been nominated by President Trump to be a federal judge.
Now involved in a legal dispute with the president, Clifford is claiming that the nondisclosure agreement that she signed regarding her alleged 2006 affair was invalid because Trump never signed it. She also alleges that Trump operatives have tried to intimidate and scare her into not talking. Despite that, she famously did an interview with 60 Minutes to speak out and prove her independence.
Throughout the battle, Clifford has garnered widespread support — mostly from Democrats, but polls show also from a not-insignificant amount of Republicans. So the question remains: will we see Stormy take that support and launch a new run for office?