Kourtney Kardashian Criticized for Promoting Merchandise for Kanye's Controversial Campaign: 'Irresponsible'
Though Kanye West failed to qualify for enough states to win the presidency, he has urged voters to write him in instead
"So Kourtney is endorsing Kanye for president? I have to say I’m disappointed," one Twitter user wrote, in a characteristic barb. "Thought she was the sane one in the family."
Others were more emphatic.
"kourtney kardashian posting an insta story to her 102 MILLION followers encouraging them to vote for kanye is one of the most irresponsible, egregious and reckless uses of that family’s platform that i’ve ever seen," a Twitter user wrote.
Another tweeted: "[Kourtney] touts herself as a person who wants a kinder, cleaner, better world for her kids but is recklessly promoting a Vote for Kanye which = a vote for Trump. She knows the reach of her platform tshe [sic] should know better."
The controversy was stirred when the Poosh founder, 41, initially posted on her Instagram Story on Thursday pointing her followers to an article on her website about "the best voter merch."
"My favorite coming next slide," she added in a caption before posting a photo of her wearing a "Vote Kanye" hat.
She added a third photo in which she drew an arrow pointing to the hat and tagged her brother-in-law.
The Poosh article she linked to also highlighted West's voter merchandise among the other nonpartisan items. Conspicuously, it did not include a recommendation, though the other merchandise did.
The subtle sartorial endorsement drew immediate notice — as well as criticism from some fans — because the Kardashian-Jenner family has avoided discussing West's political ambitions. (Reps for the family have not commented on his politics.)
West first announced he was running for president on July 4, and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, retweeted that post with an added American flag emoji.
Since then, however, Kanye's campaign has faced numerous legal and logistical issues at the same time that his alarming personal behavior put a strain on his marriage, sources told PEOPLE.
He has separately been slammed for a series of bizarre statements and interviews, including saying Harriet Tubman "never actually freed the slaves" and telling a reporter that he would run his White House like a fictional country from Black Panther.
In a lengthy statement in July — days after Kanye broke down at a campaign event in South Carolina while sharing intimate information about his family — Kim asked for "compassion and empathy" while discussing the challenges of Kanye's bipolar disorder.
"Anyone who has this or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand. I've never spoken publicly about how this has affected us at home because I am very protective of our children and Kanye's right to privacy when it comes to his health. But today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about mental health," she said then.
She continued: "I understand Kanye is subject to criticism because he is a public figure and his actions at times can cause strong opinions and emotions. He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder. Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words sometimes do not align with his intentions."
The couple, whom sources said had been on the road to a possible divorce, seem to have reconciled. But Kim has not made further public comment about his presidential campaign.
A source previously told PEOPLE that when Kim made an emotional trip to see him in Wyoming, she “urged Kanye to not move forward with running for president, but he won't listen."
Kim and other family members, including Kendall and Kylie Jenner, have posted apolitical reminders to vote in the upcoming election — though Kendall posted a get-out-the-vote video from former President Barack Obama as well.
Last week, Kanye was photographed by paparazzi on a trip to the U.K. with 7-year-old daughter North, who wore a "Vote Kanye" hoodie.
Kanye was unable to qualify for the ballot in many of the country's largest states, but he has pushed forward with his candidacy despite these issues.
Records show he has spent millions of dollars on a campaign largely built on a conservative religious platform, particularly opposed to abortion.
In a campaign ad released this week, he said that "we as a people will revive our nation's commitment to faith. ... We are not only a beacon to the world but we should be servants to each other."
Kourtney re-tweeted Kanye's ad — the only family member to do so —- drawing another round of criticism from those opposed to his run.
Kanye has also faced scrutiny about his ultimate goals as a candidate, given his past support of President Trump and his criticism of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Since announcing his campaign, Kanye said that he was not backing Trump. But subsequent reporting uncovered multiple links between his campaign and various Republican operatives, and Kanye recently met with Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner. (The Trump campaign insists it has no coordination with Kanye.)
In light of Trump's razor-thin 2016 victory, some critics say this amounts to an obvious effort by the GOP to help Kanye siphon votes away from Biden — an argument Kanye has pointedly not disputed.
His ultimate support remains unclear, however: Polling shows him with a fraction of the popularity of past third-party candidates like Gary Johnson.
Though Kanye failed to qualify for enough states to win the presidency, he has urged voters to write him in instead.