Haitian Presidential Candidate Wyclef Jean Owes the IRS $2.1 Million
In case you weren't skeptical of Wyclef Jean's soon-to-be official candidacy to become president of poor, earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the Smoking Gun just posted some documents you might want to take a look at.
The IRS has hit Jean with $2.1 million in tax liens over the last three years, including a $723,000 late notice filed this May. That's on top of Jean's well-documented problems running Yéle, his Haitian aid charity.
Surely Larry King will grill Jean on all these issues when he appears on CNN tonight to announce his presidential bid! Right, Larry?
The IRS documents, posted in full at the Smoking Gun, show that the IRS filed a lien for $724,332 on May 1 -- the third big late notice in three years, including a $599,167 lien in June 2009 and a $729,269 lien in July 2008.
Should being a bad taxpayer preclude Jean from trying to reverse the fortunes of his homeland?
Probably not. Jean has shown his passion for trying to help Haiti over the years, even if he's bungled the effort by overpaying himself for charity shows and allegedly letting his mistress run his nonprofit.
But there's never been a more critical moment in Haiti's history, and its a very fair question whether a musician -- however pure his motives -- could foster more change than a seasoned politico or a diplomat.
His candidacy has already had one impact, though -- every media outlet on the planet has written about his plans to run for the presidency, and every streetcorner in Little Haiti has been buzzing for two weeks about his plans.
"He'll bring a lot of visibility to this race, which Haiti really needs. Most of the TV crews left after the earthquake," says Marleine Bastien, executive director of Miami's Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami and a Congressional candidate.
Still, Bastien says she'll wait to see who else is running before deciding whether to support anyone in the race.
"It's just too early to say," she says.