Haiti: “President”?

“Hip-hop…is something of a pulpit…so it’s little wonder that…Haitian-American superstar Wyclef Jean, as a child of the Haitian diaspora [is] destined to return and lead his people out of bondage”: Dessalines’ Children and Repeating Islands blog about the singer's intention to run for the Haitian presidency.

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  • Jistis

    Will Wyclef Buy the Haitian Presidency with his Earthquake Money?

    This week the US has seen a media blitz about Wyclef agonizing over his decision about whether or not to run for President of Haiti. “It’s a big sacrifice,” he says. This type of exposure does not come free. So where is the money coming from?

    We know that pre-earthquake Wyclef’s foundation was poorly funded, but he managed to cover a lot of his expenses out of foundation funds, according to the IRS. According to reports, Yele funds paid the performer and his business partner at least $410,000 for rent, production services, and Jean’s appearance at a benefit concert:

    • “Wyclef Jean’s Funny Money” at: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/wyclef-jean-charitys-funny-money); and
    • “Is Wyclef Jean’s Charity a Sham?” at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheat-sheet/item/wyclef-jeans-charity-a-sham/funny-money/
    • “Wyclef Jean’s Haiti Charity Under Fiscal Scrutiny” at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/15/AR2010011504024.html

    He even managed to use the charity to pay his mistress a total of $105,000 according to the IRS:

    • “Zakiya Khatou-Chevassus, Wyclef’s Mistress, Received $105,000 From Yele Haiti, Blogs Allege” at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/16/zakiya-khatou-chevassus-w_n_500895.html; and
    • “Wyclef Jean Paid His Mistress $105,000 Through His Haiti Charity” at http://gawker.com/5492081/wyclef-jean-paid-his-mistress-105000-through-his-haiti-charity

    In fact, only 47% of his charity’s money actually went to charity. The rest went to fund consultants (like his girlfriend) and pay caterers, etc. Typically, a credible charity only has about 20-25% of its funding going to overhead. Some actually only have 10%.

    • “Yes, Wyclef Jean’s Haiti Charity is a Self-Serving Rip Off” at http://www.debbieschlussel.com/15673/yes-wyclef-jeans-haiti-charity-is-a-self-serving-rip-off/

    But even more interesting is that his expenses actually exceeded revenues in 2007 by $411,000. This is actually called “fraud” and he should have served jail time for this.

    • “Groups Raise Doubts About Wyclef Jean’s Charity” at http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=9577218

    His personal finances were so bad that he owed $2.4 million on his Miami home that had to be auctioned off due to foreclosure:

    • “BROKE??? WYCLEF JEAN’S HOME GETS FORECLOSED!!!” at http://www.mediatakeout.com/2010/28464-broke_wyclef_jeans_home_gets_foreclosed_pics_of_the_home_inside.html

    There are many many more stories on the internet in addition to these. A little Googling will provide you with an avalanche of information. Wyclef eloquently responded to all this criticism by Tweeting:

    • When Donkeys spread rumors about me I dont Respond cause I’m the master that leads them to the Well to drink the Water. Yele haiti 4 life!
    • I have been spending money n my country since I was a Fugees! why is it now after the Quake I am being Excuse! They fear I’m gaining ground
    • And don’t get it twisted! My Garage could fit half of the people on twitter why would I steal Charity Money! Your gotta come better den dat.

    I ask you: Does this sound Presidential?? Does this sound like someone who can lead a country out of poverty? He even flaunts his alleged wealth when his compatriots are suffering.

    Prior to the earthquake, he used the charity as his own personal funding source. It seems little will change post-quake. His website is fully of short pieces about the great things he is doing, but there is no overall vision for the $26 million he has collected. No detailed accounting on the current projects. It seems he is just passing out checks and donations. Could it be that he’s buying votes with earthquake relief money?

    Since he had no money prior to the earthquake, it is unclear where he got the funds to pay for the three security firms he has hired to protect him in Haiti (allegedly the police abandoned him when he told them he was going to run). Or where he got the funds to pay for the two high profile public relations firms he has hired in the US to advance his candidacy (does he know that it’s the Haitian people who will vote and not the Americans??).

    We haven’t even talked about how woefully unqualified he is to be the president of Haiti. Furthermore, he is not even eligible to run given that he has a US passport (and the Haitian Constitution is quite clear about excluding candidates with other citizenship). He cannot even tell the truth about his age (he says he is 37, Haitian records say he is 41).

    Why would anyone take him serious? He has an abysmal track record of managing his personal finances, his charity and he has no experience. What a joke.

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