Federal ethics agency won’t certify Kanye West’s financial disclosures from failed presidential campaign

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Alex Woodward
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<p>Kanye West, pictured in 2019, could face federal scrutiny over his campaign disclosure reports from his 2020 presidential bid, a watchdog group says.</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Kanye West, pictured in 2019, could face federal scrutiny over his campaign disclosure reports from his 2020 presidential bid, a watchdog group says.

(AFP via Getty Images)

The Office of Government Ethics has declined to certify Kanye West’s public financial disclosure reports from his failed 2020 presidential bid, potentially triggering more federal scrutiny of his untimely campaign.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and Washington discovered that Mr West – who qualified to appear on the ballot in just 12 states as the “Birthday Party” candidate – failed to disclose assets or income from then-wife Kim Kardashian on the form as required by law. The filings were submitted four months before the couple filed for divorce.

Two Federal Election Commission attorneys signed his campaign disclosure reports with the following note: “OGE decline to certify”.

Mr West signed that the form is “true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge”.

“By refusing to certify it, [the office] sends a message that it does not believe that West is in compliance with the law”, CREW communications director Jordan Libowitz wrote on Monday.

Mr West claimed he was exempt by citing a law that excludes candidates from reporting their spouses’ financial assets if they have “no knowledge” of their income and do not and have never benefited from their income or assets.

“This appears to be an issue, because based on publicly available information, he would know some of her assets and sources of income”, including Ms Kardashian’s television appearances, product lines and endorsements, Mr Libowitz said.

On its 2021 ranking, Forbes listed her net worth at $1bn.

“The exemption he claimed is very rarely invoked, only in circumstances where the filer has no knowledge of the spouse’s assets and income sources, such as when there is a prenup that precludes any sharing of information”, Mr Libowitz said. “That does not appear to apply in this case because the Kardashian income streams are extremely public”.

Mr West also did not disclose details of the assets or trusts of which he claimed to be a trustee. He disclosed only that he is a trustee of three trusts.

The office provides that financial disclosure reports must include information about the “holdings of and income from the holdings of any trust, estate, investment fund or other financial arrangement” related to the candidate, including those who support their spouse or their children.

Mr West claimed that a majority of his assets – totaling more than $25m – come from various LLCs tied to the rapper’s music, publishing, marketing and clothing brands.

Federal election agencies have flagged issues with Mr West’s campaign before.

Last month, the FEC sent a notice to his campaign for potentially receiving donations from minors, foreign nationals and donors using fake names and addresses linked to drop-shipping warehouses.

He spent more than $12m of his own money on his campaign, based on FEC reports.

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