As promised, Wyclef Jean officially announced that he’d be running for President in his native country of Haiti on Larry King Live last night (August 5).
With Wolf Blitzer taking over for King during Thursday night’s broadcast, ‘Clef excitingly told the veteran newsman his reasoning for joining the campaign live via satellite in Haiti. ”After January 12… being out here with my wife and picking up dead bodies from the ground, I felt that because of the youth of Haiti and the population that this is not even Wyclef saying that ‘I want to be the president of Haiti,’” he said. “I feel like I’m being drafted by the population right now to give them a different face, a different voice.”
Yet the Brooklyn-bred musician is already facing criticism from his former Fugees rap partner Pras and outspoken actor/activist Sean Penn. Pras revealed in a statement that he will be casting his vote for another presidential hopeful. “I endorse Michel Martell as the next president of Haiti because he is the most competent candidate for the job,” he said.
Penn—who, like Jean, has worked very closely with the Haitian people to help rebuild the country in the wake of the devastating earthquake that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives earlier this year—was more direct in his opposition.
“Right now, I worry that this is a campaign that is more about a vision of flying around the world, talking to people,” he said on Larry King Live. “It’s certainly not one of the youth drafting him. I would be quite sure that this is an influence of corporations here in the United States and private individuals that may well have capitalized on his will to see himself flying around the world.”
Clef shot back at the Milk star. “I just want Sean Penn to fully understand I am a Haitian, born in Haiti and I’ve been coming to my country ever since (I was) a child,” he said in a statement. “He might just want to pick up the phone and meet, so he fully understands the man.”
Pras and Penn may be the least of Clef’s problems, though. According thesmokingun.com the artist-turned-politician owes the IRS more than $2.1 million. The IRS has reportedly filed three liens against Clef since 2007. Before that, he faced similar issues brought against him by the State Tax Commissions of New York and New Jersey.
As previously reported, Jean has also faced financial issues related to his Yele organization—which he stepped down from yesterday. WJ faced allegations that he and his business partner engaged in improprieties related to funds and profited from the organization. Jean vehemently denied the accusations earlier this year. —Elan Mancini