R. Kelly, Kanye confidante, now a pot lobbyist, wins praise for tenacity, criticism for ‘abhorrent’ comments
Trevian Kutti has already ruffled feathers in the world of Illinois politics, saying she plans “to keep my knee on [the] neck” of the state’s top pot official, who like her, is African American.
A former celebrity publicist for R. Kelly and confidante of Kanye West has jumped into Illinois politics, lobbying for a major Canadian cannabis firm that wants to start growing weed here.
But Trevian Kutti has already ruffled feathers in just a short time in the fray, lodging a series of incendiary and profanity-laden attacks against Toi Hutchinson, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s top adviser on cannabis issues. While both women are Black, Kutti has vowed to “keep my knee on Toi W. Hutchinson’s neck” and has referred to her as a “slave.”
Kutti says she is furious over the state’s delays in awarding the next round of licenses prioritized for so-called social equity applicants, saying “those in greatest need are being screwed with again.”
Although she’s supported Democrats like Hillary Clinton in the past, Kutti is now a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump’s policies and makes no apologies for her brash nature.
“I’m sure that like most lobbyists, I have my share of allies and my share of disparagers,” she said in an interview. “Those who fall in the latter camp quiver hearing my unapologetic truths.”
However, state officials have called some of her public comments “abhorrent.”
“Invoking violence and hurling insults and profanities at a State of Illinois employee is the antithesis of everything this administration stands for,” said Charity Greene, a spokeswoman for Pritzker.
Meanwhile, her clients praise her tenacity.
“She’s a f---ing pit bull,” said Brad Rogers, CEO of Red White and Bloom, the Canadian pot company lobbying for a license to cultivate weed in Illinois.
Lobbyist since January
Kutti is a Nebraska native who later moved to Chicago and ran high-end stores in Old Town and the Gold Coast known for their racy window displays. In 2008, a sign reading “hot ass sale” was displayed at her store Trevian, prompting an ordinance violation.
A friend of A-list celebrities, she’s been a stylist for Oscar-winning actress Regina King, worked as a publicist for embattled R&B star R. Kelly until 2018 and more recently served on West’s executive staff. Her Instagram feed features a stream of pictures of her hobnobbing with celebrities like Spike Lee, Quincy Jones, Kerry Washington and Rosario Dawson.
In interviews, Kutti wouldn’t say whether she’s helping West on his longshot presidential bid that’s been mired in controversy. She is, however, working on the campaign of Republican Angela Stanton-King, a former reality television star and convicted felon who is attempting to fill the seat of the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
In late January, Kutti registered as a lobbyist for Red White and Bloom, state records show.
Red White and Bloom currently operates a massive indoor farm in downstate Granville that produces smokeable hemp flower and CBD oil, a trendy derivative of the hemp plant that’s used in a range of consumer products. But the firm ultimately hopes to secure a license to also grow pot at the 3.6 million square grow center, which is touted as “the world’s largest indoor premium hemp facility.”
Kutti’s work for Red White and Bloom has largely revolved around lobbying for legislation in the Senate that would open up a 22nd cannabis cultivation license, though the bill hasn’t been called for a vote.
“I do feel there’s a problem within Springfield as far as cannabis legislators purposefully and unethically blocking legislation that will make the changes that will remedy a lot of problems that we’re having,” said Kutti, pointing to supply shortages.
Kutti vowed to continue speaking up for minority firms applying for licenses that have been delayed by the pandemic and medical patients she says have been given short shrift since the drug was fully legalized, some of whom she claims to represent.
But Kutti’s instinct to act as a bomb-thrower has already rubbed some Springfield insiders the wrong way.
“I’m going to keep my knee on Toi W. Hutchinson’s neck,” Kutti wrote on July 1, just over a month after the officer-involved asphyxiation of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“She pimped medical marijuana patients and left them to die with recreational buyers now receiving priority. She then stole every chance minorities had to access equity and prosperity in cannabis,” Kutti continued. “She is a bought and paid for piece of trash, a slave and a powerless echo of those who appointed her.”
Citing similar grievances, Kutti had previously taken to social media to call for Hutchinson’s arrest and assail her as a “A RAGGEDY A-- B- - - - - - -.”
Hutchinson didn’t comment on the attacks, but Greene also said: “As the nation continues to reckon with the tragic murder of George Floyd and countless other black lives lost to police violence, comments regarding kneeling on someone’s neck are especially insensitive and abhorrent.”
Greene added that Pritzker “remains committed to ensuring the cannabis industry in Illinois is equitable and will continue working towards that goal in spite of these misinformed, callous remarks.”
Rapidly expanding company eyes Illinois
Red White and Bloom is attempting to position itself as a major player in the national pot game through acquisitions of existing companies in Michigan and Massachusetts and a brand partnership with the vaunted stoner publication High Times.
Should lawmakers unleash another large-scale cultivation license that his firm can snatch up, Rogers said Red White and Bloom is committed to offering reasonably priced products to social equity applicants who have applied for the next round of dispensary licenses. Rogers, like other board members of the publicly traded company, hails from Canada and is white.
Red White and Bloom has also applied for multiple craft cultivation licenses, which are among the delayed permits.
Ties to Trump
Kutti’s lobbying work for Red White and Bloom isn’t her only recent foray into the political realm.
In June, she attended President Trump’s sparsely attended campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was pictured holding a sign endorsing Black Voices for Trump, a group that was co-chaired by former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Kutti even posed for a photo with Cain, who later died after contracting the coronavirus.
Trump’s administration “has done more for Black people than I’ve seen in my adult life, and on issues that matter to me,” said Kutti, who previously posted to Facebook an invitation she received for a Black History Month event at the White House on Feb. 21.
Three days before that event, Trump pardoned Stanton-King, the U.S. House candidate from Georgia that Kutti is now working with. Stanton-King served two years in prison after being convicted in 2004 on federal conspiracy charges related to a car-theft ring.
Trump has also cultivated a chummy relationship with West, who has visited the president at the White House and frequently worn his signature Make America Great Again hat. Now with West running for president as a third-party candidate, reports have emerged that Trump’s allies and other Republicans are working to add West to the ballot in multiple states, potentially to siphon votes away from the Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Though Kutti has boosted West’s candidacy on social media, she was tight-lipped when asked about the current nature of their relationship. After noting that she was taking a trip to Calabasas, California, where West has a home, Kutti declined to say whether she’d be meeting with the iconoclastic artist.
“I don’t talk about my clients,” she said with a chuckle.