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Claude Cartaginese

How to Run for President, Al Sharpton Style

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Posted on April 20 2009 1:08 am
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Al Sharpton and his National Action Network (NAN) have been fined $285,000 for violating election rules during the racial agitator’s 2004 presidential bid. Sharpton’s campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), illegally accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from private sources. In addition, the campaign “kept poor records of its activities and expenditures” and commingled its funds with those of the NAN. All of these activities are prohibited under the Federal Election Campaign Act.

During the campaign in question, Sharpton at one point had accuumulated $509,188 in expenses on his American Express card. According  to the FEC, his campaign committee paid only $121,996 toward those expenses. The remainder was bankrolled by the NAN and two private corporations controlled by Sharpton, in violation of FEC rules. 

Sharpton is no stranger to improper financial manipulations. In December 2007, teams of FBI agents delivered subpoenas to ten of Sharpton’s close associates, ordering them to testify in a federal grand jury investigation of whether the clergyman had improperly misstated the amount of money he had raised during his 2004 presidential campaign — in an effort to illegally obtain federal matching funds. 

Sharpton also established a knack for shaking down corporations for cash donations to himself and NAN by threatening boycotts if the corporations refused.  As a June 2008 New York Post report stated:

“Terrified of negative publicity, fearful of a consumer boycott or eager to make nice with the civil-rights activist, CEOs write checks, critics say, to NAN and Sharpton — who brandishes the buying power of African-American consumers. In some cases, they hire him as a consultant. The cash flows even as the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn has been conducting a grand-jury investigation of NAN’s finances.” (At the time, NAN owed the IRS some $1.9 million in payroll taxes.)

The current FEC report discloses that Sharpton also received “excessive in-kind contributions” from La-Van Hawkins, a wealthy supporter and principal of the now-defunct Hawkins Food Group.

Hawkins hosted a posh 2003 fund-raising dinner for Sharpton at his (Hawkins’) home in Atlanta and flew the candidate to the event on his (Hawkins’) company jet. The total cost of the flight and the fundraiser — which featured Cristal champagne at $200 a bottle and fresh crab cakes and beef tenderloin for 60 guests — was estimated at more than $12,000 but was not reported by the Sharpton campaign. Hawkins was later convicted of perjury and wire-fraud charges stemming from a corruption scheme involving the payment of bribes to the Philadelphia city treasurer in exchange for city contracts.

One can only imagine what a Sharpton presidency would have looked like.

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