Rep. Casten criticized for calling people 'racist' and 'loony' while rapping in 2019

  • Sean Casten, left, and Jeanne Ives, right, are candidates for the 6th Congressional District race in the 2020 November general election.

    Sean Casten, left, and Jeanne Ives, right, are candidates for the 6th Congressional District race in the 2020 November general election.

 
 
Updated 9/21/2020 4:33 PM

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten is taking heat from Republican challenger Jeanne Ives' campaign over an amateur video of the 6th District congressman rapping about people he describes as "racist" and "loony."

The four-minute video, which Casten's campaign on Monday confirmed was shot during a political fundraiser last September at a Downers Grove pub, shows the freshman lawmaker on a stage with a band in front of an audience.

 

Casten, of Downers Grove, has played keyboards in a band called Rockapedia, and the group was among several on the bill that night.

In the video, a casually dressed Casten steps out from behind his keyboard and tells the crowd he writes raps when he gets angry. He then raps for more than a minute, rhythmically telling the audience: "There are so many problems in the world today and so many politicians unwilling to say anything that might alienate their base."

"But what do you do when that base is racist and science-denying and loony," Casten raps. "Yeah, I said it, so sue me."

Ives campaign spokeswoman Kathleen Murphy criticized Casten and the video late last week on Ives' social media accounts.

"If all this video revealed was Casten's limited rap ability, it would be funny but not important," according to Murphy's statement. "The video is important, however, because it shows the way Sean Casten and his supporters talk about those who disagree with him behind closed doors."

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The statement goes on to say Casten's supporters "are emboldened by his dehumanizing characterizations" and then blames them for recent vandalism of Ives campaign signs.

In a brief response on Twitter, Casten wrote: "The rumors are true: I like rap music and I don't like racists." Casten said he didn't have any more "rhymes in the queue" but said he'll "keep fighting for equality."

When asked about the controversy Monday, Casten campaign spokesman Jacob Vurpillat said, "Just because you're a member of Congress doesn't mean you can't rap."

The 6th District includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties. Libertarian candidate Bill Redpath of West Dundee also is running.

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