The Federal Election Commission last week declined to get involved in Kid Rock’s stunt Senate campaign. The agency dismissed a complaint brought against the rocker, who last year launched a bid for a Michigan Senate seat that turned out to be (shockingly) just a ploy to sell merch and albums.
Government watchdog group Common Cause had contended that the musician, whose real name is Robert Ritchie, should have created a campaign committee and filed disclosure reports when he hyped his “Kid Rock for US Senate” T-shirts and website.
But in its “statement of reasons” explaining the 3-1 decision, two of the FEC commissioners noted that Ritchie couldn’t have run under the name of “Kid Rock” anyway — and that he had previously said he wasn’t interested in running for office.
“We do not believe the record in this matter — the sale of concert themed merchandise by a musician who explicitly disclaimed candidacy — implicates concerns which are central to the Commission’s regulatory mission or deserving of its resources,” they wrote.
Alas, the agency indicated it isn’t going to save us from the endless parade of celebrities who constantly flirt with the idea of running for office (we’re looking at you, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).
“Celebrities do not enjoy immunity from Commission enforcement,” the doc reads. “By the same token, the Commission must be cautious to avoid interference with the ‘unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes.’ The free speech rights of many artists would be hollow indeed if, to avoid government investigation, they must parse their words when touching upon political issues and campaigns.”
clarification: An earlier version of this story stated that the FEC had ruled to dismiss the complaint against Kid Rock. The commission’s 3-1 vote does not constitute a ruling, but it means the agency will not pursue the complaint further.