Today Common Cause filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Department of Justice accusing Robert James Ritchie (a.k.a. "Kid Rock") of violating federal campaign finance law by acting as a Senate candidate while failing to register his candidacy with the FEC, comply with contribution restrictions and publicly disclose contributions to his campaign. In July 2017, Kid Rock began selling "Kid Rock for U.S. Senate" hats, t-shirts, yard signs and other campaign materials at http://kidrockforsenate.com. Under campaign finance law, referring to oneself as a candidate with phrases such as "Smith for Senate" and receiving more than $5,000 through, for example, sale of campaign merchandise, makes a person a candidate. Regardless of whether Kid Rock says he’s joking around, he’s selling "Kid Rock for U.S. Senate" merchandise and is a candidate under the law. This is campaign finance law 101.
And Regardless of Kid Rock's motives, presidential candidates in the 2016 election cycle arguably committed massive violations of the same campaign finance laws by denying they were candidates while raising millions of dollars of unlimited super PAC money--funds that candidates are prohibited from soliciting or receiving. For example, Jeb Bush raised more than $100 million into a super PAC through the first six months of 2015, all the while denying that he was even testing the waters of a campaign. Complaints against Bush and others committing similar illegal acts in the 2016 cycle remain pending at the FEC.
Without action from the FEC, voters are likely to see continued abuses and violations of campaign finance laws in the 2020 presidential cycle. Common Cause isn't going to sit by an watch as candidates evade and violate contribution limits and disclosure requirements. We're going to fight for the integrity of our democracy.