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A government ethics office refused to approve Kanye West's financial disclosures from his failed presidential campaign

Submitted by Tech Insider on April 19, 2021 - 2:52pm

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The federal Office of Government Ethics is refusing to sign off on rapper Kanye West's financial disclosure forms from his failed 2020 presidential campaign, according to a document obtained by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. 

Jordan Libowitz, communications director at CREW, wrote in a Monday blog post that the highly unusual step from the agency is likely due to West not fully disclosing his wife Kim Kardashian West's income and assets, as Insider's Dave Levinthal also reported in July 2020. 

Because there's no law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns, "the federal disclosure is the only mandated look at a presidential candidate or president's finances," Libowitz told Insider. 

"It's really important from a transparency standpoint to know where money is coming into officials or to candidates, as well as to know that it is correct and full," he said. 

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Walt Shaub, the former OGE director under the Obama and Trump administrations, told Insider in July that candidates in nearly all circumstances are required to report income ranges for their spouses, which could account for the agency's failure to certify the disclosure. 

On the form, West claimed he was exempt from reporting Kardashian West's income by citing a law stating that federal candidates can go without disclosing their spouse's income sources if they have no knowledge of the income stream, it is not connected to their own economic activities, and they do not expect to derive a financial benefit from it.

"It's not just that he did not report it, but that he used an exemption, and a fairly rare one, to reporting. It said among things, that he had no knowledge of what her assets were or where her income came from. And that seems a little tough to believe," Libowitz told Insider. 

Kardashian West, whose sources of income include her beauty and fashion ventures KKW Beauty and Skims, her participation in the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and brand endorsements, has a net worth valued at $1 billion by Forbes. West's net worth is estimated at $1.8 billion by the outlet. 

"It'd be different if he left it blank, but claiming an exemption that he didn't qualify for is questionable," Libowitz said. 

The couple married in 2012 and are now divorcing. CREW said that West submitted the personal financial disclosure four months before Kardashian West filed for divorce. 

Libowitz also noted that West failed to disclose information and assets for three trusts that he listed himself as a trustee of on the form. 

While the discrepancies may not lead to penalties for West and likely won't result in prosecution, "it's a "fairly significant issue, especially when there are already questions surrounding money involved with his campaign," Libowitz said. 

West's quixotic presidential campaign, which was almost entirely self-funded, struggled to get on the ballot in many states and had numerous ballot petitions rejected for high numbers of invalid or fraudulent signatures. 

The campaign also had multiple run-ins with the Federal Election Commission for submitting disclosure reports with anomalies and red flags that, according to a Daily Beast report, "include multiple donations from minors, multiple possible contributions from foreign nationals and several fake names and addresses that trace to drop-shipping warehouses on both coasts." 

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