Common Cause accused Kid Rock of campaign law violations
Musician Kid Rock has been rumored all summer to be running for the U.S. Senate in 2018. As the speculation swirls, Kid has teased the media and his fans about whether he is serious about running for elective office.
His website is selling "Kid Rock for Senate 2018" t-shirts and other campaign paraphernalia. But he hasn't even come close to any kind of a formal announcement.
This hasn't stopped Common Cause, the self-proclaimed arbiter of ethical politics and governance, from filing a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission over Kid Rock's "political activities."
In a complaint filed today with the Federal Election Commission and Department of Justice, Common Cause accuses Kid Rock of violating federal election laws by acting as a Senate candidate while failing to register his candidacy, comply with contribution restrictions and publicly disclose contributions to his campaign.
Warner Bros. Records, Kid Rock's label, also is targeted in the complaint; the company is accused of violating federal law and commission regulations by facilitating and acting as a conduit for contributions to the Kid Rock campaign.
"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. This is campaign finance law 101," said Paul S. Ryan, Common Cause's vice president for policy and litigation. "Given the activities we've documented in the complaint, he can't reasonably claim to be merely testing the waters of candidacy and thus exempt from candidate filing requirements. He is a candidate and is obligated to abide by all the rules and make the same disclosures required of everyone else running for federal office."
Common Cause is asking the FEC and DOJ to launch investigations of Kid Rock's campaign and to "impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations" along with "additional remedies as are necessary and appropriate to ensure compliance" with the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).
The complaint notes that while he has not formally declared his candidacy, Kid Rock already has a campaign website, http://kidrockforsenate.com, and is using a link to a Warner Bros. Records website to sell campaign T-shirts, yard signs, hats and bumper stickers, bearing the "KID ROCK FOR US SENATE" logo.
Kid Rock had a short, profane, and typical response, worthy of the "American Bad Ass":
I am starting to see reports from the misinformed press and the fake news on how I am in violation of breaking campaign law.
#1 I have still not officially announced my candidacy.
#2 See #1 and go [f---] yourselves.
Everyone else, Have a great Labor Day (I will be spending mine WORKING in one of the greatest cities in America - Grand Rapids, Michigan!!)
It isn't so much that Common Cause is right – it is. Technically, Kid Rock is violating the law.
But it's funny how Common Cause doesn't file similar complaints against politicians who pretty much do the exact same thing when running for president or other federal offices. It's unclear, for instance, who owns the online store that sells Kid Rock merchandise. Many celebrities contract out for that service. It's also unclear who owns the "Kid Rock for Senate" website and where any money raised for the campaign actually goes.
Skirting federal election law is as American as apple pie. Most politicians do it and get away with it for as long as possible. That Common Cause would get its panties in a twist over a right-wing Republican doing what other politicians get away with routinely only shows how partisan this "non-partisan" organization is.