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Kanye's Campaign Store May Land Him In Deep Trouble With the Feds

Kanye’s Campaign Store May Land Him In Deep Trouble With the Feds

Former Birthday Party presidential contender Kanye West has not yet terminated his campaign, but he has disabled donations and removed merch from his website after receiving a notice from the Federal Election Committee and numerous complaints about extended shipping delays from some of his zoomer donors hopeful that their federal contribution would return a black-market payday.

The unusual violations in the West campaign’s FEC reports include multiple donations from minors, multiple possible contributions from foreign nationals and several fake names and addresses that trace to drop-shipping warehouses on both coasts. On top of that, experts say, West himself may face an investigation for unlawful fundraising practices that pulled in nearly $100,000 in small donations this year.

“In five-plus years of doing this I’ve never come across something like this,” said Jordan Libowitz, communications director for government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has filed 14 federal lawsuits targeting illegal campaign finance activity since 2016.

West, of course, never had a chance. He launched his campaign in late July, marking the occasion with a meandering speech in South Carolina in which said that “Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves,” cried, and posited that while abortion should be legal, “anyone who gives birth to a child be given $1 million.” The producer-cum-rapper-cum-serial entrepreneur was first hyped by Republicans hoping he would siphon young and minority voters from Democratic tickets, specifically by former President Trump’s top adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who in February confirmed reports that he had encouraged West to step into the ring during a “great discussion” at the rapper’s Wyoming ranch last summer.

In January, West reportedly said that the quixotic effort “cost him his marriage” to reality TV megastar Kim Kardashian.

West’s campaign was largely self-funded, through $12.4 million in loans. The self-identifying genius spent more than half of that — north of $7.86 million across 64 separate payments — just getting on the ballot. Half of his small-dollar fundraising, $1.3 million, went to legal fees, and he dropped nearly a million dollars on merch-related services. His campaign also paid $94,677 in August to a company that charters private jets, and currently has $1.1 million in the bank.

You know this was a scam, right?

Jennifer Bloom, mother of 16-year-old West donor Ian Bloom, said in a phone call.

The campaign has to date collected $2.2 million from small-dollar donors, nearly all of it in exchange for campaign swag, not out of support for a Yeezy administration. Some of it was snapped up by entrepreneurial zoomers intending to flip the limited-edition collectibles in online marketplaces, scoring a few thousand dollars in easy cash. Price points on the site ranged from a $40 hat to a $200 Kanye 2020 Vision hat/hoodie bundle, but they list higher than that today in online marketplaces.

But some recent donors aren’t happy.

“You know this was a scam, right?” Jennifer Bloom, mother of 16-year-old West donor Ian Bloom, said in a phone call. Her son, nursing strep throat, explained that he still hasn’t received the $3,280 worth of Kanye 2020 gear that he ordered from the campaign store in late January and planned to flip online.

“I don’t know what’s happening there,” Ian Bloom said. “I ordered like 20 hoodies off his campaign website, along with a lot of other people that I know. They said it would be three weeks, and after that I emailed the support team, and the email just wasn’t a thing.”

He provided a screenshot of an email that had bounced back from the campaign, showing that his address had been blocked. After that, Bloom said, he called his credit card company to dispute and cancel the charge, which he said is still under investigation.

Students account for more than 1,200 of the campaign’s 3,161 reported donations, contributing a total $349,160, with $26,540 of that coming in this year. Bloom, who communicates with other resellers on Discord social media boards, said that “I can say with confidence that at least half of us in the group have to be still in high school.”

It is illegal to knowingly solicit and accept campaign donations from anyone under the age of 18. The West campaign did not reply to a request for comment for this article.

The Daily Beast spoke with two other West donors who said they were in high school. They gave in January, and also complained that they still hadn’t received their items.

Fifteen-year-old Andres Zapata donated $1,300 in late January, but said the promised hoodies still haven’t arrived.

“Yea I thought everything was going to go smoothly just like any other website I buy merchandise from,” Zapata said in a text exchange while he was in class. Asked how he came up with that kind of money, Zapata, whose parents are both high school teachers, said he’d been reselling apparel for around two years. “I’ve been just growing my business every day and making more money every single day. I’ve just been flipping my money through hype things,” the sophomore said.

The contributions are teeming with irregularities. Brandon Schrock of Laredo, Texas, told the federal government that his employer was “poop,” and his occupation was “pooper.” A number of donors appear to have given under assumed names, some of which appear at first glance as incomprehensible, such as the HDB family, first names NXSUS, JHWAT and EBHXE.

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