Russell Simmons----Simmons has been an active philanthropist. Among his community activism and charitable organizations are the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, the Rush Philanthropic organization and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. Simmons became involved in New York politics when then-governor George Pataki asked for Simmons' input in revising the Rockefeller drug laws, a mandatory-sentencing policies for drug offenders. However the proposed overhaul never came to fruition, and had the effect of allegedly "alienating some of the hip-hop entrepreneur's political allies". Simmons was later investigated for being an unregistered lobbyist. In response, Simmons sued the state of New York for infringing on his right to free speech. Simmons has been actively supporting PETA animal rights campaigns,particularly campaigns against KFC's cruelty to chickens. Simmons wrote a letter to KFC CEO David Novak asking the company to improve its animal welfare standards.
In July 2006, Simmons was named a Goodwill Ambassador of CISRI-ISP. According to the press release, Simmons' appointment will help "launch an awareness campaign utilizing hip-hop as a vehicle to address war, poverty and HIV/AIDS, in support of the UN Millennium Development Goals as well as the CISRI-ISP fight against severe poverty and malnutrition . On August 24,2006, Simmons hosted a reception in support of Republican United States Senate candidate from Maryland, Michael Steele. In December 2006, Simmons went on a tour of Botswana's Jwaneng mine, one of the world's richest diamond mines. This was part of a nine day, three country trip through Africa. Simmons' response was that he felt too much focus has been put on "conflict diamonds" and that his job was "to take what's good and make it better". Russell Simmons also is a U.S. board of directors for Upliftment Jamaica, an organization started by Gary Foster, Vice President of Rush Communication which seeks to empower impoverished communities throughout Jamaica and the Caribbean.