Taylor Swift fans have bad blood with Scooter Braun, and one Democrat hopes this might help him become the next governor of Virginia.
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has purchased a series of ads aimed at fans of Swift, tying his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, to the contentious sale of her master recordings, The Verge reports. In 2019, record executive Scooter Braun's company Ithaca Holdings purchased Swift's record label Big Machine Label Group, obtaining control of the singer's masters in a purchase she spoke out against and is controversial among her fans.
"Did you know that Republican candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, helped buy Taylor Swift's masters out from under her when he was co-CEO of Carlyle Group?" reads a Facebook ad from McAuliffe's campaign, which includes the hashtag "#WeStandWithTaylor."
Carlyle Group helped fund the sale of Big Machine when Youngkin was co-CEO, according to Axios. McAuliffe's campaign acknowledged to Axios that the Democratic candidate himself was a "passive investor" at Carlyle, though his press secretary said he "did not have any investments associated with Taylor Swift's masters." Youngkin stepped down from the private equity group in 2020.
Swift in 2019 said that she had "pleaded" for years for the opportunity to own her catalogue of songs and was dismayed to learn that Braun, whom she accused of "incessant, manipulative bullying," had obtained ownership of the master recordings. The singer has since embarked on an ongoing effort to re-record her older music so that she has ownership over the masters for these songs, and her latest re-released album debuts in November. Braun sold Swift's masters in 2020.
In response to the new ad camapgin, a spokesperson for Youngkin told Axios that McAuliffe "has reached the stage of desperation in his campaign where he's rolling out the most baseless attacks to see what sticks," adding, "It's a pathetic fall that could only be achieved by a 43-year political hack."