During Wyclef Jean’s brief bid to become president of Haiti, Sean Penn emerged as one of the singer’s biggest critics, accusing him of deserting the country in the weeks following this year’s massive earthquake. Jean – whose candidacy was rejected by Haiti’s electoral commision – then lashed out at Penn during a performance in New York this past weekend. “I got a message for Sean Penn: Maybe he ain’t see me in Haiti because he was too busy sniffing cocaine,” Wyclef told the crowd at Hot 97’s On Da Reggae Tip concert.
Yesterday, a spokesperson for Penn responded to Wyclef. “Mr. Jean is clearly unfamiliar with the physical demands put upon volunteers in Haiti. As aid workers there, the notion of depleting the body’s immune system thru the use of illicit drugs is ludicrous,” said the statement. “More specifically, J/P Haitian Relief Organization (a.k.a. JPHRO) has a ZERO tolerance policy for any and all illegal drugs. As the leader of this organization, Sean Penn has not only set this policy, but adheres to it. That Mr. Jean would make such a false accusation is reckless and saddening, but not surprising.” Earlier Penn criticized the combative tone Wyclef’ took after he was barred from running for president, writing this in the Huffington Post: “The only attention that Haiti seems to be getting today is on a presidential campaign of personality that threatens to create a new swell of social unrest in a plagued country. I would caution Mr. Jean against research, or prospective policy, by sound bite.”
Wyclef also addressed his former Fugees bandmate Pras at the weekend show, singing, “I got a message for Praswell. Even though you don’t want to support me, I got love for you…even though you only kicked eight bars in the Fugees.” Pras, who did not support Wyclef’s run, also questioned whether Wyclef’s shaky grasp of the Creole language would jeopardize his candidacy.