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Biden Campaign Under Fire for TV Ad Featuring Tech Investor as Struggling Bar Owner

(Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The Biden campaign is taking flack for a recent television ad featuring a struggling Michigan bar owner that the ad neglects to mention is actually an affluent veteran tech investor who donated to the Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign.

Joe Malcoun, who is introduced in the ad as the “co-owner” of The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Mich., backed Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stringent lockdown orders that kept businesses shuttered for months but says he blames President Trump’s administration for his business’s pandemic woes.

“For 50 years, The Blind Pig has been open and crowded – but right now it’s an empty room. This is the reality of Trump’s Covid response.” he says in the campaign’s ad, which includes shots of the empty bar and concert venue and aired Sunday during NFL games on CBS.

“We don’t know how much longer we can survive not having any revenue. A lot of restaurants, bars that have been mainstays for years will not make it through this. This is Donald Trump’s economy,” Malcoun goes on in the ad. “There’s no plan, you don’t know how to move forward. It makes me so angry. My only hope for my family and this business and my community is that Joe Biden wins this election. That’s the kind of person we need.”

However, the ad does not mention Malcoun’s other business ventures, including being an “angel investor” in several growing tech companies. He inherited money from his wife’s grandfather and founded CKM Capital Partners in 2013. The next year, Malcoun began serving as CEO of Nutshell, a tech company selling customer relationship management software, which raised $5.5 million in angel and venture capital. He also co-founded Cahoots, a co-working and event space for tech entrepreneurs and bought three buildings in downtown Ann Arbor for his various businesses.

In July, Malcoun donated $5,000 to Biden For President, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.

The Blind Pig reopened in June following Michigan’s social distancing guidelines but soon decided to hold off on having live shows amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“Now that we tried it and saw it’s really hard to communicate what it means to have a really socially distanced and live music show, we decided it’s not really worth trying. The very last thing we want is to be the epicenter of a new outbreak,” Malcoun said at the time.

Earlier this year, the Republican-led state legislature filed suit against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday over her extension of Michigan’s state of emergency, saying she overstepped her authority.

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court denied the governor’s request to extend her emergency powers, saying the law she cited to issue executive orders to enforce coronavirus lockdown measures is unconstitutional.

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