Kanye West answers questions from Sr. pastor Joel Osteen during the 11 am service at Lakewood Church Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

YE24, WE HARDLY knew ye. The prospect of a Kanye West presidential run this election cycle appears dead.

Ye’s personal attorney Bruce Marks, who is advising the wind-down of the rapper’s campaign apparatus, tells Rolling Stone: “He’s not a candidate for office in 2024.”

Evidence of the decision not to pursue a presidential bid is reflected in the October Federal Election Commission filing by Ye’s political committee, Kanye 2020, which steered Ye’s oddball presidential bid three years ago and was used by the rapper to test the waters for a 2024 run. Right-wing operative Milo Yiannopoulos — who made a splash in May by declaring himself to be the “director of political operations” of “YE24” — is no longer on the payroll. The committee is now run by its treasurer, and recent expenditures are consistent with closing up shop. The committee has less than $25,000 cash on hand.

While the infamously mercurial Ye could always reverse course, a source close to the Kanye 2020 committee insists that “there’s no plan to do that,” adding “there’s no campaign structure or anything along those lines in place.” The source tells Rolling Stone that the likelihood of a YE24 bid is “beyond remote.”

A year ago, a second Kanye presidential bid appeared imminent. The rapper signaled his intention to run for the White House amid his antisemitic blitz of late 2022, during which he declared his love for Hitler. In May, Ye reinstated  Yiannopoulos — whom he’d previously fired — at the helm of his political committee. Described by the Anti Defamation League as a “misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, transphobic troll,” Yiannopoulos quickly wrested command of the nascent YE24 operation from the white nationalist and Holocaust denier, Nick Fuentes.

Prospective presidential candidates often explore a new run using their previous campaign machinery. Kanye 2020 filled this purpose for Ye, but the prospective 2024 campaign was quickly engulfed by scandal and infighting — one former staffer describes it to Rolling Stone as “dysfunction and malfunction from the beginning.” Evidence of this drama can be found in recent government filings that allege unauthorized spending and document abrupt staff departures.

Just days after Yiannopoulos returned to power, it came to light that he had purchased the internet domain name Ye24.com using the campaign credit card of another political client, Marjorie Taylor Greene. (Yiannopoulos insisted he’d innocently mixed up AMEX cards. The Taylor Greene camp blasted Yiannopoulos for “gross negligence.”)

Then, significant questions arose about whether the employment of the British-born Yiannopoulos was licit. FEC regulations broadly restrict foreign nationals from sitting in decision-making roles in American political campaigns. Yiannopoulos did not respond to questions about his immigration status or his ultimate departure from Kanye 2020.

A July FEC filing revealed that Yiannopoulos received $31,200 from Kanye 2020 for what was listed as “campaign wrap up services.” However, a memo appended to that filing read: “The legality of the Milo Yiannopoulos expenditure is under investigation by the Committee and Counsel.”

Devin White, who was the treasurer for Kanye 2020, made the July filing. In an interview with Rolling Stone, White claims he was hired by Yiannopoulos, but quickly became alarmed that his boss might not have the legal authority to make any hiring decisions. White recalls feeling that he’d been “dumped into a pile of shit,” and he likens the management of the prospective YE24 campaign to “building an airplane with no wings. It wasn’t meant to fly.”

 

According to the October FEC filing, made public this week, White hired an attorney named Bruce Fein, whom White says was brought on to help “resolve” the thorny compliance questions swirling around Yiannopoulos. (A source with knowledge of the Kanye 2020 committee argues that Yiannopoulos’ employment did not run afoul of election laws, because Yiannopoulos was never involved in an active election effort. “There was never a 2024 campaign,” the source says.)

By late July, White was suddenly replaced  by a new treasurer, Hassan Sheikh. The October FEC filing, submitted by Sheikh, appends a memo to the $10,000 paid for Fein’s services, calling the expenditure “unauthorized” and “potentially fraudulent” because White “had been expressly instructed not to make it.” Similar memos are appended to two payments White, himself, received. White says he “completely contests” the characterizations in the FEC filing. Fein did not respond to interview requests.

In a statement to Rolling Stone on behalf of Kanye 2020, Marks, Ye’s attorney, says “White was terminated as Kanye 2020 acting treasurer for cause.” It explains the departure of Yiannopoulos by insisting that his “services were no longer needed when Kanye 2020 engaged Hassan Sheikh, an experienced compliance professional, as its treasurer.” The statement underscores that: “Ye is not a candidate for any office” and that Yiannopoulos is now “the director of public affairs for Yeezy, LLC.”

With Kanye West on the shelf for 2024, voters looking to fritter away their democratic power by voting for independent candidates will now be forced to choose between a different West — Cornel West — or former Democrat, and active conspiracy theoristRobert F. Kennedy. Jr.

Source: Rolling Stone

 

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