Del. Jon Cardin rejected Thursday the endorsement of a Baltimore-based rapper after learning that the man who calls himself Ski Money is facing charges of human trafficking.
Cardin, a candidate for attorney general, said he knew nothing of the rapper's charges and criminal record when he posed for a picture with Lawrence S. Christian, 37, at a fundraiser and his campaign briefly publicized the rapper's support.
"I recently learned of the charges that are pending against Mr. Christian, a Baltimore based rapper who endorsed me over Twitter," Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat, said in a statement. "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."
Christian has been convicted of multiple crimes, including conspiracy to distribute drugs. He was charged last year with 22 counts of human trafficking and prostitution in a case that is pending in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Cardin is running in the June 24 Democratic primary for attorney general. He posed for a photo with Christian at a fundraiser in Baltimore this week hosted by well-known former entertainment lawyer Paul Gardner. Gardner represented White House state dinner crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi, as well as actress Felicia "Snoop" Pearson of "The Wire" but was disbarred last year after Maryland's highest court found that he had overbilled clients and misused money given to him as a retainer.
Christian posted the photo of him and Cardin to Instagram and Twitter, writing: "Everybody vote Jon Cardin Democrat Attorney General, Make Sure You Submit a Vote June 24! 4$ure."
The Cardin campaign retweeted that endorsement, but later took down the message, saying Cardin was unaware of Christian's record. On his campaign website, Cardin points to legislation he sponsored "to strip convicted human traffickers of the profits of their crimes."
At the fundraising event, where crab cakes and jumbo shrimp were served, Christian also posted photos of him posing with former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon. "She still on her business an she still fighting 4 the city even on her days off I love her," Christian wrote of Dixon.
Dixon said Christian went around the fundraiser telling candidates he had a lot of fans and could rally young voters. "I didn't know who he was and I don't think Jon knew who he was," Dixon said. "He said he had a big following and could get young people out to vote. I met him for the first time."
The rapper's songs include "Dope Boy Back" and "Home of the Ravens."
In court papers, investigators say Christian worked with an 18-year-old woman to operate a prostitution ring, pimping out prostitutes at hotels in Windsor Mill, Catonsville and Pikesville.
Detectives arrested him in July 2013 at the Best Western hotel on Belmont Avenue in Windsor Mill, the documents say. Police said they seized $5,000 from the glove compartment of his rented Dodge Caravan, plus nearly $900 more from his wallet and pocket.
A 25-year-old prostitute told detectives she was promised that Christian would take care of her, which included providing clothing, nails and haircuts, according to the court documents. He threatened that there would be consequences if she left, police said.
She said her keys, purse and cellphone were taken from her, and she wasn't allowed to go anywhere without Christian or the woman operating the prostitution ring with him, police charge. She allegedly told detectives there were multiple prostitutes working for Christian and the woman throughout Maryland and surrounding states.
Christian's attorney, Richard M. Karceski, said he believes his client is innocent.
"I have looked into the charges against Mr. Christian, and it is my belief that the charges are totally unfounded," he said. "I can imagine that it has caused a firestorm," he said of the endorsement. Christian did not respond to requests for comment.
Christian has been convicted of crimes including conspiracy to distribute drugs and resisting arrest in 2009; a handgun charge and a fourth-degree sex offense in 1996; and drug dealing in 1994.
The rapper depicts himself as a rising star on his LinkedIn profile, saying he has performed with or opened for such acts as Wiz Khalifa, Jim Jones, Bone Thugs & Harmony, Waka Flocka Flame and other well-known acts. "From the Brutal streets of Baltimore, comes a star rapper known as Ski Money," the page states.
He is scheduled to appear in court for trial June 17.
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