Detroit musician Kid Rock may face tens of thousands of dollars in civil penalties for the alleged violation of federal election law.

Though Kid Rock –– whose real name is Robert Ritchie –– has created website kidrockforsenate.com and released merchandise with the same message, watchdog group Common Cause accused Ritchie of not registering his candidacy or reporting campaign contributions, a violation of federal election law.

For months, Ritchie has been unclear about whether he is officially running next year for the Michigan Senate seat currently held by Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.). In July, he said he would hold off on making a decision, and used funds raised through merchandise to fund voter registration efforts. Maintaining that he hasn’t officially announced his candidacy, Ritchie released a statement dismissing the allegations.

“I am starting to see reports from the misinformed press and the fake news on how I am in violation of breaking campaign law. #1: I have still not officially announced my candidacy. #2: See #1 and go f— yourselves.”

twitter.com/KidRock/status/903702320885661696

The Detroit Free Press reported General Jeff Sessions and the Federal Election Commission acknowledged receiving the complaint, though the investigation will be confidential until action is taken. This process has been known to take years, although often complaints yield no necessary action.

Election law mandates that “written or oral statements” made or authorized by a person that refers to him or herself as a candidate generally demonstrates they have decided upon candidacy thus holding them to campaign finance reporting and registration requirements.

However, election law can be notoriously vague. A person is typically considered a candidate after raising $5,000 and are then given 15 days to register their candidacy. However, Ritchie stating he has not announced his candidacy while simultaneously selling contradictory merchandise is without precedent.

Warner Bros. Records could also find themselves facing civil penalties for contributing to Ritchie by selling merchandise. Corporations are not allowed to contribute to federal candidates. Since it is still murky whether Ritchie is a candidate, Warner Bros. dismissed these allegations.

However, Paul S. Ryan, Common Cause’s vice president for policy and litigation, told the Detroit Free Press the intentions behind Ritchie’s yard signs, clothing, website and other merchandise are clear and Ritchie is a “textbook” example of bending election law and a clear declaration of his candidacy.

Public Policy junior Lauren Schandevel, communications director of the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Democrats and a columnist at the Daily, said regardless of the circumstances, candidates must be held accountable.

“Even rock stars have to follow election laws,” Schandevel said.

“Given the activities we’ve documented in the complaint, he can’t reasonably claim to be merely testing the waters of candidacy and thus exempt from candidate filing requirements,” Ryan said. “He is a candidate and is obligated to abide by all the rules.”

Though his use of the Confederate flag as a concert backdrop and other controversies have been incendiary, Republicans have encouraged Ritchie’s run in order to remove Democrat incumbent Stabenow from the seat.

Kid Rock will be opening the new Little Caesars Arena tomorrow in Detroit, and Kid Rock’s publicity firm has hinted more political news could be on the way.

“He will be giving his fans exclusive insight on his political views and aspirations for Michigan while on stage,” read a comment released by the firm.

The University’s chapter of College Republicans declined requests to comment.

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