Eric Clapton tried and failed to donate $5,000 to RFK Jr’s presidential campaign

His donation was invalid because he’s British – but it was also well over the limit of $3,300.

Robert F Kennedy Jr, Eric Clapton

Images: John Lamparski / Harry Herd / Getty

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Eric Clapton has tried and failed to support the presidential campaign of conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine advocate Robert F Kennedy Jr.

Eric Clapton doesn’t describe himself as an anti-vaxxer. He instead likes to describe himself as a “fan of freedom”, however, that fandom seems to manifest mostly in support of anti-vaccine figures. What a coincidence. Similarly, for the last couple of years, he’s also exclusively given interviews to anti-vaccine outlets, including Kennedy’s own website.

But his rapidly-diminishing rockstar cred wasn’t the only thing Clapton tried to lend Kennedy – he also wanted to sling over a bit of financial support. The Federal Election Commission had other ideas, however, as Clapton’s $5,000 pledge was refunded. Not only was the amount well over the $3,300 limit for individual donations, campaigns are barred from accepting money from foreign nationals. On the donation form, he listed his city as “England,” and blanked out the US-specific address details by listing his state as “ZZ” and his zip code as “99999”.

Eric Clapton's donation record to RFK Jr's campaign
Image: Federal Election Commission

The attempted donation comes on the heels of a turbulent couple of years for Clapton’s public image. He was a vocal opponent of the UK’s lockdown measures during COVID-19, spread misinformation as to the effects of the vaccine on fertility, and saw many of his peers speak out against him. Robert Cray, for instance, cut ties with Clapton when he compared lockdown measures to slavery.

Clapton, however, dismissed the idea that he himself was “anti-vaccine.” Instead, he claimed, he just likes freedom. But supporting a candidate like Kennedy, however, professes far more than just this abstract support Kennedy has built his platform on a decidedly conspiratorial worldview, framing himself as an enemy of “big pharma” as he spreads a range of harmful misinformation about vaccinations (including the disproven claim that they cause autism in children). His rhetoric in this regard has, of course, ramped up since the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

But Kennedy also spreads a number of other troubling and unsupported theories – such as the patently false idea that chemicals in the water are causing children to identify as transgender.

More recently, Kennedy has come under fire for seeming to suggest that COVID-19 – the virus itself – could have been “ethnically targeted” to avoid infecting those of Jewish and Chinese descent. The remarks have been decried by numerous sources as wildly conspiratorial and anti-semitic.

Some will rightly point out that Clapton does have the right to align himself politically with whoever he likes. Even if he can’t legally donate to their campaigns. But for others, this will be just another instance of history repeating itself: after all, Kennedy is certainly not the first reactionary figure Clapton has aligned himself with.

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