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Kanye spends nearly $6M on presidential campaign

POLITICO logo POLITICO 9/5/2020 By Zach Montellaro
Kanye West wearing glasses and looking at the camera: The presidential campaign of rapper Kanye West is almost entirely self-funded. © Michael Wyke/AP Photo The presidential campaign of rapper Kanye West is almost entirely self-funded.

Rapper Kanye West is pouring in millions of his own money and hiring prominent political operatives to fuel his independent presidential bid, according to his first financial filing with the Federal Election Commission.

West’s campaign is almost entirely self-funded. The rapper reported loaning his campaign nearly $6.8 million and receiving just over $11,000 in outside contributions. He reported spending $5.9 million and has over $1.2 million in outstanding debt owed to consultants.

The majority of the campaign’s expenses have been to get on ballots in states across the country. His campaign reported paying $4.4 million for various ballot access-related expenses. He’s currently on the ballot in a handful of states, and has litigation pending in others.

Much of his expenses are going to a handful of firms. He reported paying nearly $1.3 million to Atlas Strategy Group — the firm of Gregg Keller, a prominent Republican operative who has helmed major conservative groups and worked on campaigns for Republicans like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and former President George W. Bush.


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He also reported paying just under $1.5 million to Fortified Consulting, a Tempe, Ariz.-based firm with little public presence, and $2.7 million to the Long Island-based Millennial Strategies, a firm that lists Democrats as clients, including Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign; Jumaane Williams, the current New York City public advocate; and Suraj Patel, a congressional candidate who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) in a primary earlier this year.

Fortified Consulting shares a mailing address with the Arizona branch of Lincoln Strategy Group, which had done work for President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, along with a slew of other Republicans. A representative for Lincoln Consulting did not immediately respond to a request for comment from POLITICO.

West paid $25,000 to John Boyd, whom New York magazine described as a “spiritual adviser” to West, and $25,000 to Isaac Ford, whom the Tennessean reported helped get West on the ballot in that state. Ford's father and brother — Harold Ford Sr. and Harold Ford Jr., respectively — were Democratic members of Congress from Tennessee.

West’s campaign also reported paying $444,000 to Millennial Strategies for polling, an exorbitantly high amount for a fledgling campaign. He also spent $95,000 on travel to a charter jet company.

He has shelled out over $400,000 in legal fees to various firms, as he sues in multiple states to get on the ballot. Most recently, West is asking the Arizona state Supreme Court to reverse a ruling that is keeping him off the ballot in the battleground state.

The report covered spending and fundraising from July 15-Aug. 30. West will not be required to file another report until Oct. 20, just two weeks before Election Day.

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