A Baltimore-area rapper who endorsed Del. Jon S. Cardin’s candidacy for attorney general is facing nearly two dozen charges related to human trafficking and prostitution.
Cardin now says he is rejecting the endorsement after being asked about the pending charges against Lawrence S. Christian, a rapper who uses the stage name Ski (pronounced Sky) Money.
Cardin, whose platform includes strong stances against sexual violence against women and revenge porn, had featured a photo of himself with the rapper on his campaign Facebook page.
Christian tweeted his endorsement late Tuesday and included the photo, taken that day at a fundraiser held at the Baltimore offices of disbarred entertainment attorney Paul W. Gardner II.
Early Wednesday, Christian used the same account to announce that he was scheduled to appear in court.
“Good morning on my way to court June 4 you know it’s going down,” the rapper wrote in a message on Twitter.
Christian is charged in Baltimore County with 14 counts of human trafficking and eight counts of prostitution. He called the charges “a misunderstanding.”
A statement of charges alleges that Christian detained two women and forced them to have sex for money. The records further allege that Christian took the money from the women and moved them between rooms at three hotels in northwest and western Baltimore County.
Christian, who prefers to go by his stage name, acknowledged the charges against him but said he was innocent and that investigators were “forcing and coercing witnesses.”
A criminal motions hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court was continued, according to court records. A trial date has been set for June 17.
During a phone interview Thursday, the rapper spoke of a life on the streets, being abused as a child and having a criminal record involving “drugs and guns” — but said he had never been involved in human trafficking and prostitution.
“That’s not me,” Ski Money said. “I don’t have a record for that. I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. I’m trying to get people off drugs. I’m trying to baptize people. I’m trying to do something different for the city.”
On his LinkedIn profile, the performer brags about previously being incarcerated as part of his resume.
“Ski Money first entered his appearance on April 9, 2011 shortly after being released from prison,” the rapper wrote.
Cardin, in an interview Thursday, said the event at Gardner’s office was small and raised no more than $1,000.
Gardner, who was disbarred in February 2013, also tweeted out a photo from the event and described its menu as including “Perrier water, jumbo lump crab cakes, jumbo shrimp, chicken & grilled peppers, filet mignon skewers, and impaled fruit.”
Asked how he came to attend the event, Ski Money said, “I keep my ear to the streets. I was reading up on [Cardin] and wanted to put my money behind him.”
Ski Money praised Cardin for “wanting to clean up the bay.”
“Jon seems like he gets it and he accepted me for who I am,” the rapper said.
The entertainer said he made a small donation to Cardin but couldn’t remember the amount.
A spokesman for the campaign confirmed that the rapper wrote a check for $100 to Cardin.
“We’ve already returned it,” said Andrew Carton, a spokesman for the campaign.
Cardin became aware of the charges Wednesday after the photos were published on the social media accounts. The photo of the two remained on the Cardin campaign’s Facebook account Thursday afternoon, but has since been removed.
“I recently learned of the charges that are pending against Mr. Christian, a Baltimore-based rapper who endorsed me over Twitter,” Cardin said in an emailed 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, and as attorney general I will continue to aggressively combat this awful behavior.”
Later, in an interview, Cardin said a friend alerted him to the charges late Wednesday.
“All I know is he had been charged with some bad things,” Cardin said.
Cardin said he didn’t look into the specific charges.
“I put it out of my mind,” Cardin said, adding, “I did everything I could to take down the (endorsement) from my social media accounts.”
The rapper, for his part, said he holds no ill feelings toward Cardin for rejecting the endorsement.
“He gotta do what he gotta do for the greater good of the community,” Ski Money said. “As long as everybody know I tried.”