Common Cause v. Kid Rock
UPDATE: October 30, 2018
Today Common Cause received a letter from the FEC indicating that the Commission deadlocked on the legal question of whether there is reason to believe that Kid Rock violated federal campaign finance laws and has, consequently, “closed the file in this matter.”
Known as “American Bad Ass” to legions of fans, music star Kid Rock was living up to the nickname in his fledgling campaign for one of Michigan’s seats in the U.S. Senate. In a complaint filed September 1, 2017, with the Federal Election Commission and Department of Justice, Common Cause accused 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 also is promoting his candidacy on social media. Since July, the complaint notes, the musician has maintained a Twitter account, @KidRockSenator, that has been hawking the sale of campaign materials. On July 29, that account tweeted “Donate to the campaign! Get your gear! #PoliticsNation” along with an image of “KID ROCK FOR US SENATE” merchandise with the text “SHOP NOW.”
The Twitter account also has linked to an article on “The Gateway Pundit” website that details results of a poll showing Kid Rock leading incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the complaint says.