Campaign finance watchdogs have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against hip-hop musician Pras Michel — one of the founders of the Fugees — and a politically active company under his control.
In the new complaint, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 argue that Pras violated the law by giving money to a super PAC through his company without disclosing that he was the source of the funds. Federal law prohibits making political donations in someone else’s name, which the groups argue was the effect of the corporate contribution.
As the Center for Public Integrity recently reported, Pras’s company, SPM 2012 Holdings LLC, donated $875,000 in 2012 to Black Men Vote — a super PAC that supported the re-election of President Barack Obama in the battleground states of Ohio and Virginia.
“[This] looks to us like an individual’s contribution that was routed through an LLC, and it consequently obscured the identity of the true donor,” Campaign Legal Center attorney Paul S. Ryan told the Center for Public Integrity.
“The LLC was no more than a straw donor,” Ryan continued. “There’s reason to believe that the law was violated, and the FEC should investigate.”
Through a spokeswoman, Pras declined to comment. But attorney William Kirk, the treasurer of the Black Men Vote super PAC, called the new complaint baseless.
“I don’t believe an FEC complaint regarding this matter would have any merit,” Kirk said. “Based on my understanding of the campaign finance laws and the facts, as they say, ‘There is no there there.’”
Kirk continued: “Personally, I think an artist like Mr. Michel should be applauded for his efforts — fully legal — to encourage young African-American men to vote and become civically engaged. I would hate to think or find out that [this complaint had the effect of] discouraging such participation.”