| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Pornographic magazine publisher Larry Flynt offered $1 million on Thursday to anyone with proof of "an illicit sexual liaison" involving leading Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
The offer by the politically left-leaning Flynt targeting Perry was similar to past efforts by the Hustler magazine founder to embarrass public figures he dislikes.
Los Angeles-based Larry Flynt Productions, which publishes Hustler, said it bought full-page advertisements in the weekly editions of the U.S. satirical tabloid The Onion and the Austin Chronicle, a Texas alternative paper, seeking evidence of any Perry peccadilloes.
"I've been doing this for 35 years," Flynt said in a telephone interview with Reuters. "We've found running these ads were very successful in finding sources to come forward."
A copy of the most recent ad circulated to the media by Flynt's company read, "Have you had a gay or straight sexual encounter with Governor Rick Perry?"
"Can you provide documented evidence of illicit sexual or intimate relations with the governor? Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine will pay you up to $1 million if we choose to publish your verified story and use your material."
Perry headed into a Republican candidate debate on Thursday ranked as the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, according to recent public opinion polls.
A USA Today/Gallup poll released this week found Perry ahead of one-time Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, with 31 percent favoring him to 24 percent for Romney among Republican likely voters.
A spokesman for Perry could not be reached for comment about the Flynt offer.
In 1999, then-incoming U.S. House Speaker Robert Livingston resigned after Flynt claimed to have uncovered evidence of an extramarital affair by the Louisiana Republican.
Flynt had bought a full-page newspaper advertisement offering $1 million for evidence of sexual dalliances by congressional Republicans, who were seeking to impeach then-President Bill Clinton over allegations that he had lied under oath about an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Flynt in 2007 made a separate $1 million offer for evidence of illicit sexual encounters by high-ranking lawmakers, but that ended less dramatically than his 1998 offer.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Peter Bohan)