Rap Star Probed by DOJ for Political Donations is Clinton Foundation Donor

Fugees member Pras Michel gave $50k-$100k to Clintons, is tied to Malaysian fund suspected of embezzling billions

Rapper Pras Michel

Rapper Pras Michel / Getty Images

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A rapper who is reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department for receiving $20 million from a Malaysian fund just before he emerged as a major donor to groups supporting former President Barack Obama is also a Clinton Foundation donor.

The investigation into rapper Pras Michel, best known as a founding member of the Fugees, is centered on his relationship with Malaysian financier Jho Low, whom the DOJ believes is behind a $4.5 billion fraud scheme, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Michel received $20 million in "gifts" from Low in 2012—about the same time that he gave nearly $1.3 million to a Super PAC supporting Obama's reelection, gave $40,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, and gave $20,000 to become a founding member of Obama's Organizing for Action advocacy group.

Michel's money also flowed to the Clinton Foundation, which discloses on its website that it received between $50,001 and $100,000 from Michel.

The Clinton Foundation doesn't disclose when contributions were received, and did not respond to inquiries into the contribution from Michel. A legal representative for Michel also did not respond to inquiries into the time and reason for his contributions to the foundation.

The Clinton Foundation also received between $1 million and $5 million from Frank White, a top fundraiser for both Obama and Clinton who partnered with Michel to found DuSable Capital Management LLC, a firm that has done major business with the Malaysian fund targeted by DOJ.

A DOJ spokesperson declined to comment when asked whether the contributions to the Clinton Foundation were being looked at in the probe.

The Malaysian fund, 1Malaysian Development Bhd. (1MDB), was being used by Low, a close confidante of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, to gift large sums of money to friends and associates who would then spend the money on his behalf.

The Wall Street Journal explains that the $20 million gift directed to Michel by Low came as Prime Minister Razak was working to boost his profile and investment ties with the United States.

In 2013, Michel's partner White brought Razak's son to the White House for a meeting with Obama in the Oval Office. They were joined on the visit by actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese—Obama was given an advance copy of The Wolf of Wall Street, a film funded by money from 1MDB.

Investigators believe, according to the report, White had received about $10 million from Low's fund before he founded DuSable Capital Management with Michel.

DuSable's biggest investment since it was founded has been a solar-power project in Malaysia. DuSable's stake in the project was purchased by 1MBD for $69 million in 2015.

Michel's lawyer told the Journal that a "false narrative about Mr. Michel is in place," but declined to comment on his financial dealings or political activity.

The Clinton Foundation became a major headache for Hillary Clinton during her failed 2016 run for president largely due to its foreign contributions, which continued during her tenure at the State Department.

Brent Scher   Email Brent | Full Bio | RSS
Brent Scher is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he studied foreign affairs and politics.

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