Kanye West’s ‘Independent’ Campaign Was Secretly Run by GOP Elites

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Kanye West’s ‘Independent’ Campaign Was Secretly Run by GOP Elites

New documents show Kanye West’s doomed White House campaign—styled as an “independent” third-party effort—appears to have disguised potentially millions of dollars in services it received from a secretive network of Republican Party operatives, including advisers to the GOP elite and a managing partner at one of the top conservative political firms in the country.

Potentially even more alarming? The Kanye 2020 campaign committee did not even report paying some of these advisers, and used an odd abbreviation for another—moves which campaign finance experts say appear designed to mask the association between known GOP operatives and the campaign, and could constitute a violation of federal laws.

At the heart of Kanye’s political operation was Holtzman Vogel, one of the most powerful and well-connected law firms serving major Republican political and nonprofit organizations today. And weaved throughout his campaign, whether the multi-platinum rapper realized it or not, were Republican operatives who may have been less interested in seeing a President West than in re-electing President Donald Trump.

Paul S. Ryan, vice president of government watchdog Common Cause, called the revelations “a big deal.”

“The importance of disclosure in this matter can’t be overstated,” Ryan told The Daily Beast. “It’s no secret that Kanye West’s candidacy would have a spoiler effect, siphoning votes from Democrat Joe Biden. Voters had a right to know that a high-powered Republican lawyer was providing legal services to Kanye—and federal law requires disclosure of such legal work.”

Federal disclosures also show the campaign enlisted legal services from an array of firms with links to Trump and the Republican Party—including leading voter fraud conspiracy theorists and more than a half-dozen legal practices which went on to push baseless election fraud lawsuits on behalf of Trump or the GOP.

In fact, Holtzman Vogel played key roles in those efforts. They represented Trump in a Pennsylvania lawsuit in late September, while advising the West presidential campaign—advice which at one point included Pennsylvania ballot strategy. The firm is also tied to the Honest Elections Project, which has been involved with voter-suppression efforts.

The former “Birthday Party” contender’s campaign even paid roughly $60,000 to one of those firms—Minnesota-based Mohrman Kaardal—in early December, when it filed a baseless election fraud lawsuit. The suit was ultimately rejected with such vigor that it nearly cost the attorneys their license to practice. That outfit worked with another election challenging group, the Amistad Project, a function of Thomas More Society, which employed Trump attorney and Rudy Giuliani protégée Jenna Ellis. Kanye 2020 retained the firm within days of the Amistad Project’s August launch.

The nature of these hidden connections is obviously complex. And experts say that appears to be the point. Any effort to untangle them will, unfortunately, reflect that. But they say that the red flags—including efforts to cloud disclosures, and Republican operatives exploiting a spoiler candidate—appear to be there.

The Daily Beast shared the court filings and FEC data with a number of government watchdog groups, who all concluded that the campaign and operatives appear to have for one reason or another shielded their connections. The groups found this troubling, and noted that without the documentation in the lawsuit—a breach-of-contract claim which a former campaign vendor filed this spring in Texas state court—the lack of transparency would have kept some of the connections secret.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reviewed hundreds of campaign communications in court records, as well as Kanye 2020’s FEC filings. Communications director Jordan Libowitz concluded that the campaign bookkeeping was a “disaster,” despite the expert guidance from Holtzman Vogel, and the documents are “enough to raise an eyebrow and a red flag or two.”

“This was absolutely amateur hour. And his campaign paid a lot of money for those results,” Libowitz said.

He continued, “It’s very clear that the whole point behind Kanye’s campaign was to try to re-elect Donald Trump. Whether that was a goal of Kanye is another issue. But he was clearly seen as a way to steal potential votes from Biden.”


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Article URL : https://www.thedailybeast.com/kanye-wests-independent-campaign-was-secretly-run-by-gop-elites?scrolla=5eb6d68b7fedc32c19ef33b4