Kid Rock, a.k.a Robert Ritchie, has spent the summer vocally exploring a run for Senator in Michigan’s 2018 election. He’s launched a website selling Kid Rock for Senate merch, continually maintained his intention to run, and even received the support of a GOP group led by Mitch McConnell. There’s just one problem: He hasn’t actually registered as a candidate yet, and that might put him in violation of federal law.
Nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause has announced they’ve filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission and Department of Justice accusing Ritchie of violating campaign laws and regulations. The group’s vice president for policy and litigation Paul S. Ryan said in a statement, “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.”
Ritchie has said that the proceeds from selling merchandise like campaign T-Shirts, yard signs, and bumper stickers with the “KID ROCK FOR US SENATE” logo will go towards a voter registration nonprofit he launched in July. He’s repeatedly said that he’s simply exploring his potential candidacy and promised at the end of July that he’d hold a press conference “in the next six weeks” to address the issue. At the same time, he’s not shied away from the fact that he plans to profit from the “media circus” surrounding him. “I absolutely will use this media circus to sell/promote whatever I damn well please,” he said in a statement. He also said of his merch website, “It’s not a hoax, it’s a strategy and marketing 101!”
Still, Common Cause contends that the website is clearly attempting to raise money and awareness for Richtie’s run. The “American Bad Ass” even launched a @KidRockSenator Twitter account that has been directing fans to buy the products in order to “donate to the campaign.” A July 29th tweet read, “Donate to the campaign! Get your gear! #PoliticsNation” alongside an image of “KID ROCK FOR US SENATE” goods and the simple direction, “SHOP NOW.”
Warner Bros. Records is also part of the complaint, as it’s through their website that Ritchie’s merch is being hawked. According to Common Cause, this puts them in violation of “federal law and commission regulations by facilitating and acting as a conduit for contributions to the Kid Rock campaign.”
The complaint asks that the FEC and DOJ investigate Ritchie’s campaign and to “impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations” as well as “additional remedies as are necessary and appropriate to ensure compliance” with the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Read the entire thing here.
Maybe there’s still some hope left after all.
Update 3:40 PM EST: Or maybe not. Kid Rock has posted a response to what he calls “reports from the misinformed press and the fake news” about his being in violation of campaign law. He breaks his defense down into two simple ideas:
“#1 I have still not officially announced my candidacy.
#2 See #1 and go fuck yourselves.”
Of course, the entire argument behind Common Cause’s complaint is exactly that; Kid Rock has not officially announced his candidacy but is still acting and campaigning like a candidate. So did he essentially admit his guilt — and supreme ignorance — with this statement? We’ll let the FEC and DOJ decide.
But yes, yes he did. Read his complete statement below.
“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 fuck 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!!)