For a dweeby white politician running in a heavily African-American state, what could be the downside from getting an endorsement from a relatively prominent local rapper? Well, for Maryland Del. Jon Cardin, a candidate to be state attorney general, it’s when the rapper Ski Money turns out be under indictment for 22 counts of human trafficking and prostitution.
Ski Money, whose given name is Lawrence Christian, has had a number of brushes with the law in the past, including a conviction for drug dealing. But he showed at up a May fundraiser held by Paul Gardner, a disbarred lawyer best known for representing Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the publicity seeking couple who crashed a White House state dinner in 2009, and cut the Maryland Democrat a check for $100. Afterwards, he tweeted his support of Cardin, which the candidate retweeted, then it all came tumbling down.
Once it was discovered that Ski Money was an accused human trafficker, Cardin quickly backtracked. He put out a statement where he said “I am appalled to hear of these charges and had no prior knowledge of them. I do not accept Mr. Christian's support. I've actively fought to eradicate human trafficking throughout my political career." The campaign also refunded Ski Money’s donation.
However, in an interview with The Daily Beast, Ski Money said he still stood by Cardin and was “trying to be a voice for the streets cause the streets are not vocal.” Ski Money, who told The Daily Beast that he had just been signed by Roc Nation Records, said “I come from nothing, used to eat out of trash can. If we had a Democrat like Jon Cardin in office, I wouldn't have gone through that turmoil.” He added “I strongly believe we need to kill this monster called racism in the country.” (Roc Nation did not respond to multiple requests to confirm that they had signed the rapper to their label.)
This isn’t the first time Cardin’s judgment has been called into question. The delegate, who represents a district in Baltimore County, came under scrutiny in 2009 when he used on-duty police to help propose to the woman who is now his wife. Baltimore City police officers boarded a boat owned by a friend of Cardin’s while a police helicopter hovered overhead and the officers made Cardin’s then-girlfriend think she was facing arrest. Then, the Maryland Democrat got down on one knee and proposed. Cardin’s use of on-duty police officers for his wedding proposal came under great scrutiny in the cash-strapped city of Baltimore.
Yet, despite all of this, a recent Washington Post poll had Cardin leading the Democratic primary for attorney general (equivalent to the general election in this deep blue Maryland) over State Sen. Brian Frosh by 26-20 margin, albeit with 40% of voters undecided. Most observers attribute Cardin’s lead to his last name. One longtime Maryland political insider pointed out the irony of Cardin’s success. “If his name was Jon Carter, he would not be in this position He’s really had a lackluster career in general assembly, his judgment is faulty and, if he becomes attorney general, he would have ridden the Cardin name into the office.” The political insider went on to note that, ironically, Frosh, an unexciting but hard working “legislator’s legislator” has far more in common with Ben Cardin than the Maryland Senator’s nephew does.
Election Day is June 24. In the meantime, Cardin has to hope that Maryland voters not charged with human trafficking start to support him as fervently as Ski Money does.