Earlier this summer, Kid Rock jokingly (we hope) announced his candidacy for Senate, presumably for a seat in his home state of Michigan. While it appears—despite some notable GOP support—that Rock, born Robert Richie, is probably using the “campaign” and its merch-filled website as a promotional device for his music career, some politicians and organizations are taking it seriously, including the watchdog group Common Cause.
As Consequence of Sound notes, the group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and Department of Justice today that accuses the one-time sex tape star of failing to comply with federal election laws. “Regardless of whether Kid Rock says he’s only exploring candidacy, he’s selling ‘Kid Rock for Senate’ merchandise and is a candidate under the law,” Common Cause’s vice president for policy and litigation Paul S. Ryan said in a statement. “This is campaign finance law 101.”
Since his July announcement, Richie has been selling various Kid Rock for U.S. Senate merchandise at kidrockforsenate.com. “First of all, I’ve got 15 days from my announcement to file paperwork with the FEC!” he said in a statement on July 13, the day after his initial announcement, indicating at least a vague awareness of campaign laws, though later he added: “…I’ll keep doing what I do best, which is being a voice for tax paying, hardworking AMERICANS and letting politicians like [Senator Debbie Stabenow] know that We the People are sick and tired of their bullshit!”
As outlined in Common Cause’s complaint, Rock continued teasing a campaign, issuing a statement that ended with “Kid Rock ’18 for U.S. Senate” on July 17 and then, on July 27, sharing another statement that announced money from his “campaign” merchandise would go towards the foundation of a non-profit ostensibly designed to promote voter registration. “One thing is for sure…The democrats are ‘shattin’ in their pantaloons’ right now…and rightfully so!” that statement ends.
From The Hill:
Federal candidates have to collect personal information of all of their donors who contribute more than $50 at a time, and disclose that information to the Federal Election Commission for donors who give more than $200 in aggregate. They also have to abide by federal donation limits and prohibitions. Election law says a person becomes a candidate when they’ve either spent or raised $5,000 or declared themselves an active candidate.
The complaint specifically cites the Federal Election Commission’s candidate guidance, which calls statements like “Smith for Senate” statements that “indicate that the individual has decided to become a candidate.” Since a Ritchie-affiliated nonprofit is selling those shirts, and it’s likely that selling those shirts has either cost Ritchie or earned Ritchie at least $5,000, Common Cause believes he’s an official candidate
The complaint asks that the DoJ and FEC “impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations” and any “additional remedies” that “are necessary and appropriate to ensure compliance” with the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.
Read the full complaint here.