Bernie Sanders, America’s hippest old man, has already secured a few key celebrity endorsements for his presidential campaign, including Killer Mike, Zola Jesus, The Strokes, Dick Van Dyke, and
Garth Brooks, and this weekend he’s adding Chuck D of Public Enemy to that list with a rally in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav is not especially happy about this, and his lawyer even sent Sanders a cease-and-desist letter accusing him of using Flavor Flav’s “unauthorized likeness, image, and trademarked clock” to promote his campaign and that Flav himself “has not endorsed any political candidate.”
Chuck D is performing at Sanders’ rally as Public Enemy Radio, even though he will be the only actual member of Public Enemy onstage, and Flavor Flav’s letter says that Chuck D “does not speak for Public Enemy” alone and that “those who truly know what Public Enemy stands for know what time it is” and that “there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav.” This all comes from Rolling Stone, which says there was even a handwritten note from Flavor Flav at the bottom of the letter saying, simply “Hey Bernie, don’t do this.”
Unfortunately for Flavor Flav, it seems like he’s overstating just how much say he has over the Public Enemy name. In a statement from the other side, Chuck D’s lawyer points out that he could just perform as Public Enemy if he wanted to because “he is the sole owner of the Public Enemy trademark” and is also “the creative visionary and the group’s primary songwriter.” The statement even notes that Chuck D wrote “Flavor’s most memorable lines.” Chuck D himself went a little more personal, saying in a separate statement that, “Flavor chooses to dance for his money and not do benevolent work like this,” adding, “He has a year to get his act together and get himself straight or he’s out.”
Chuck D also tweeted about why he supports Sanders, saying he hates “the party [bullshit]” but likes enough about Sanders that he’s willing to back him now and keep working:
He also responded to people who are attributing Flavor Flav’s request to take the Public Enemy name off of the Sanders rally to some kind of political savvy, saying that he understands Flavor Flav’s “craziness” and that he knows this has nothing to do with Bernie Sanders specifically.