Celebrities will use Reddit’s Ask Me Anything subreddit to promote a new project, and sometimes things go awry because well Reddit happens. The Grammys were this weekend, so it made sense to have three-time Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter/producer Wyclef Jean do an AMA. However, it did not go as planned for Wyclef, in fact, it may have been the most disastrous AMA of all-time.
A little backstory on Wyclef, in 2001 he founded the Wyclef Jean Foundation AKA Yéle Haiti, a charitable organization that helps the citizen’s of Haiti, Jean’s home country. The charity provided scholarships, school funding, meals and other charitable benefits. The foundation helped Haitians in need from Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 and garnered much worldwide publicity for the charitable efforts from the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. Jean said he raised $1 million in 24 hours for aid for the victims of the earthquake.
However, reports starting circulating that the charity was misappropriating funds intended for poor Haitians as well as not filing income tax returns for several years. The New York Times reported that the organization failed to file in 2005, 2006 and 2007 until 2009, and that by early 2010, returns and records for 2008 had still not been filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
From the New York Times:
The forensic audit examined $3 million of the charity’s 2005 to 2009 expenses and found $256,580 in illegitimate benefits to Mr. Jean and other Yéle board and staff members as well as improper or potentially improper transactions. These included $24,000 for Mr. Jean’s chauffeur services and $30,763 for a private jet that transported Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to a benefit in Chicago that raised only $66,000.
In 2010, Yéle spent $9 million and half went to travel, to salaries and consultants’ fees and to expenses related to their offices and warehouse. In contrast, another celebrity charity, Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization, spent $13 million with only 10 percent going to those costs.
Some of Yéle’s programming money went to projects that never came to fruition: temporary homes for which it prepaid $93,000; a medical center to have been housed in geodesic domes for which it paid $146,000; the revitalization of a plaza in the Cité Soleil slum, where supposed improvements that cost $230,000 are nowhere to be seen.
HVS Global Hospitality Services, a hospitality firm, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against Yéle Haiti to the tune of $108,972 for unpaid debts.
Yéle Haiti shuttered its doors in 2012.
Now even though all of these issues happened years ago, the Internet does not forget. Redditors were happy to remind Wyclef of all the apparent wrongdoing during his AMA on Sunday.
Redditor Skybrew asks Jean:
I have a question for you, how do you sleep at night knowing that the money people were donating to your charity Yele could have been spent improving the lives of “your people” but instead you spent it on yourself and your celebrity friends? How do you justify $600,000 in donations went to Yele’s headquarters, which have since been abandoned, $375,000 to cover ‘landscaping’ costs, $470,000 spent on food and beverages, you paid yourself $100,000 to perform at a “Charity” event for your presidency bid, $100,000 to your mistress, $30,763 to fly Hollywood Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to a Chicago. You have stolen a total of $9 million dollars of the $16 million donated to Haiti. Do you feel like the biggest douche bag on earth or do you like stealing from the mouths of the poor and needy?
I worked in Haiti for 3 years. I came here to say this.
Thank you. Fuck you Wyclef.
How can you defend yourself about using a charity that you stood up and chaired as a personal piggy bank?
CaptJackHarkness poses this question:
Wyclef, How long did it take you to realize how bad of a idea it was to come here?
Cerinthus simply quipped:
Desoletto hilarioously states:
Bill Cosby will be AMAing tomorrow.
With all that money you stole from those poor Haitians, why couldn’t you help Lauryn Hill out with her tax bill?
markjohnston905 kills it.
As a young songwriter myself, I have a question for you.
What’s a good fake charity I could start up to rob people of money who really need it?
Thanks so much.
Wyclef appears to have responded to the disaster by quoting The Godfather on his Facebook.
I think this Godfather quote fits better, “Women and children can afford to be careless, but not men.”