As for Jackson and Sharpton, like some African rulers before them and their forefathers’ black slave masters, they were, and continue to be, willing to cynically and hypocritically, sell their own for profit. While they refer to themselves as “Reverend”, there is not much discernible evidence that religion plays a significant part in their private lives so, I will dispense with the title in this treatise. Although both had access to Dr. King and his guiding principles, each decided on a much different path to influence the black community after the passage of the Great Society legislation in 1966 and the death of Dr. King in 1968.
“For decades Jesse Jackson has intimidated numerous companies into donating hundreds of millions of dollars to his organizations by suing, protesting, and boycotting them under the guise of redressing racism. All the while, Jackson benefits himself first and foremost. Among the big players he has extorted are Texaco, Coca-Cola, Ford, Anheuser-Busch and several telecommunications giants.
In a recent year, for example, Jackson billed the charities he controls $614,000 for “travel expenses.” When asked to explain this extraordinary figure, he says that he often spends more than 200 days per year traveling on charitable business. Yet even if we make the charitable assumption that this figure doesn’t include any direct padding of Jackson’s self-reported $430,000 annual income, this still works out to nearly $3,000 per day [every day of the year. No holidays fir Jesse Jackson!]
As early as 1982 Jackson launched a boycott of Anheuser-Busch because it purportedly did not have enough black-owned distributorships nationwide. The beer company eventually contributed $510,000 to Jackson and established a $10 million fund to help blacks buy distributorships. When Jackson’s two sons (Yusef and Jonathan) purchased a River North distributorship in Chicago for an estimated $30 million, Jackson dropped the boycott and became the company’s best friend.
When the Chicago Sun-Times asks if there might be any connection between the boycott and the awarding of the distributorship Jackson became mightily offended. “If Bush is qualified to run the country, they are qualified to run a beer distributorship” he thundered, employing a typically spurious bit of illogical demagoguery. “They should not be profiled or otherwise suggestions dropped that they are less than able to do what they do. That is very insulting to me. Very insulting.”
This is a truly priceless bit of racialist bluster. Notice Jackson doesn’t even bother to deny that the distributorship was a payoff. Instead, he switches the topic to the racially loaded question of whether his sons were “qualified.” Qualified for what? To join their father in enjoying the fruits of the racial-protection racket? There’s no need to feel insulted, nobody doubts they were. [Also notice that a major newspaper actually challenged Jackson. Ah, the good old days.]
Jackson has gone so far as to lobby the Federal Communications Commission to block companies seeking government approval to merge, until they donate money to his organization. In the late 1990s, he opposed the merger of telecommunications giants SBC and Ameritech, saying it would be detrimental to low-income customers. Money changed Jackson’s mind, however. He became the deal’s biggest cheerleader when the companies donated $500,000 to one of his Rainbow/PUSH funds.
In another example, Jackson opposed the CBS-Viacom merger, but let it be known that his opposition would disappear if Viacom were to sell its UPN network to Chester Davenport or Percy Sutton, both long-time friends of his. The Sun-Times reports “Jackson also blocked the SBC-Ameritech merger until Ameritech agreed to sell part of its cellular phone business to a minority owner, who turned out to be Davenport.” “The price you pay for our support,” Jackson says, “is to include us.”
Shortly after that, he opposed a merger of AT&T and TCI but, once again, reversed his position after AT&T wrote a $425,000 check. Fearing the wrath of Jackson’s racism accusations [and his power to deliver mobs of loyal, angry protestors on short notice and for extended periods – as if they had nothing else to do – both benefits of living off of the taxpayers], other telecommunications giants – including GTE and Bell-Atlantic – followed suit with big contributions.
Of course Jackson wants people to think he means “the African-American community” when he refers to “us” in his conception of the “politics of inclusion”. A mountain of evidence suggests the pronoun should be given a somewhat more limited meaning. In yet another example of what Jackson means by the politics of inclusion, his Citizenship Education Fund has gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from telecommunications companies whose mergers he initially opposed.
Such shakedown anecdotes are abundant in Jackson’s storied public life, and the Toyota case is only the most recent of many. The Toyota shakedown began with a postcard advertisement that Toyota used during the summer of 2001 to promote a new sports utility vehicle. The ad featured a smiling black man with an image of the SUV visible on his bright gold tooth. Jackson said the ad was racist, and Toyota immediately pulled it.
That was not enough for Jackson. He threatened a boycott of Toyota, and the auto maker’s frantic executives agreed to meet with him. Nick Nichols’ book, entitled The Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to fight and survive attack group shakedowns, follows the highly publicized deal in August of that year between Jackson and Toyota Motor Sales USA, in which the automaker agreed to spend nearly $8 billion over ten years to increase minority participation in the company. Prior to the agreement, Jackson had threatened to organize a boycott against Toyota.
Toyota was also accused of buckling under Jackson’s pressure by diverting a portion of a $300 million bond offering to supporters of the civil rights leader. Toyota claims the bond offering was merely a “coincidence,” and unrelated to its agreement with Jackson to boost minority participation at the company.
With Jackson at their side a few months later, Toyota executives announced a new, $7.8 billion diversity program – the one featured at the Los Angeles meeting where Rev. Peterson was attacked for daring to ask Toyota how a conservative, black organization that was not part of Jackson’s inner circle could work with Toyota in a positive, mutually beneficial way.
Toyota’s Irving Miller, the vice president of corporate communications, admitted later in a sworn deposition that company officials were deeply concerned about the potential boycott and that it was the reason Toyota developed the so-called 21st Century Diversity Strategy, which pledged to make $700 million in contracts and business opportunities available to minority firms each year for a period of ten years.
Visibly nervous during his deposition in Los Angeles, Miller was careful to avoid testifying that the multi-million-dollar plan was actually devised or controlled by Jackson. He did admit, however, that Toyota discussed Jackson’s concerns and that those concerns are “manifest in the program that we developed.”
Jackson finally was forced to admit, under oath, what many have known for years; that Jackson’s brand of civil rights comes with a price tag. If you don’t join Jackson’s “Trade Bureau” – and pay dues to Jackson – you won’t have any chance of picking up the apples from the trees Jackson shakes.
By 2001, a Washington D.C. public relations executive was warning clients about the consequences of “appeasement” in dealing with Jesse Jackson, and labeled Jackson the “godfather of corporate shakedowns.”
“We have had protection rackets for several thousand years because they work. The Mafia has made protection an art form. Jackson has taken a lesson from history,” author Nichols told CNSNews.com. He defines a shakedown as occurring when a group or individual like Jackson makes “a highly exaggerated or completely bogus allegation and the message to the company is you either do things our way or we are going to take this public, embarrass you, hurt you on Wall Street and do a lot of damage.”
The next step, Nichols said, involves the corporation consulting with a public relations firm, which usually recommends that the company meet the demands of the pressure group. But Nichols cautions against taking this advice. “That is the attitude that was held by [former British Prime Minister] Neville Chamberlain when he tried to do this with Adolf Hitler. It didn’t get him anywhere and it’s not going to get them anywhere,” he stated.
When a company gives into these types of demands, they are open to even more pressure, according to Nichols. “Once your corporation has been marked as a company that is prepared to pay up and roll over, other groups who also make a living from doing this kind of thing start to go after you.” Nichols cites Starbucks’ decision to meet the demands of the organic food industry as a recent example. “Starbucks rolled over. Now every time you pick up the paper, someone new is attacking the company. It’s an easy hit for people who simply want to engage in a protection activity.”
Nichols expects more corporations to give in to the demands of Jackson because “a lot of corporate executives are getting counsel from PR flacks and others to basically engage in appeasement. It’s a lot easier to do than to fight back.” Critics say Jackson’s agreement with Toyota shows a familiar pattern.
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal & Policy Center (NLPC), said Toyota’s finance division sold the $300 million bond offering, with a portion going to two financial contributors of Jackson, just one week after Jackson’s boycott was delayed. The NLPC filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that Jackson’s Citizenship Education Fund (CEF) had violated several tax code provisions.
“There is a $300 million security offering that gets farmed out through the underwriter to two of Jackson’s biggest supporters on Wall Street,” Boehm said, noting it happened just one week after Jackson announced he was delaying the boycott against Toyota. “Sometimes things are exactly what they look like. This is one of those times,” Nichols said. “You have a quid, a pro and a quo.”
The New York Post reported that Toyota sold the $300 million issue of medium-term notes through Goldman Sachs, “listing two street firms whose owners are big Jackson supporters – Blaylock & Partners, and Williams Capital – as sellers of the issue.” Blaylock & Partners contributed $30,000 to CEF and also benefited from Jackson’s opposition to a merger between AT&T and TCI, Boehm alleged. “[Jackson] dropped his opposition when the companies hired Blaylock & Partners to float an $8 billion bond offering. AT&T then gave [Jackson’s] CEF $425,000” according to Boehm.
Williams Capital has given Jackson at least $50 thousand in contributions, Boehm said. “That would be strictly coincidence and not part of our reason for using them,” Mike Michels, a spokesman for Toyota told CNSNews.com, regarding the multi-million-dollar medium-term note sale involving the two firms. “There was no quid pro quo,” he said.
Boehm counters, “I think it is what it looks like. It is no coincidence at all. It was the payoff.” On June 20th, after a series of meetings with Toyota, Jackson announced he was postponing the boycott and set a deadline of Aug. 1 to resolve the issue. Toyota made it known that it wanted to resolve the boycott threat by working with Jackson to reach an accord. According to Boehm, the stock offering was made at the end of June and Toyota’s agreement with Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH coalition to increase minority hiring was finalized Aug. 8.
Michels laments that there is a “lingering perception that our corporate diversity plan was in some way a contract or some kind of agreement with Rev. Jesse Jackson. It is not.” He instead credits Jackson with allowing Toyota “to delve into our diversity programs much more comprehensively than we had in the past” and giving the company “an excellent opportunity to look at it in a holistic fashion.”
Boehm believes Jackson’s threatened Toyota boycott followed a familiar pattern. “He makes a threat, the corporate folks who are being threatened cave in by giving money to Jackson’s groups, or friends, or business associates and then a boycott is averted. That is exactly what happened here. It’s a one, two and three that has characterized virtually every one of his boycotts,” he said.
Keiana Peyton, a spokeswoman for Operation PUSH, told CNSNews.com that Jackson has been proven financially clean. “In the probes that have already been completed, they have found no financial improprieties,” she said.
Boehm said he is unaware of the “probes” referred to by Peyton. “To say he has been cleared, I would like to know who cleared him and when. Just about any time he has ever come under official scrutiny, he has never come up clean,” Boehm said. When pressed to name the probes to which she was referring, Peyton would only reference a Jackson media relations effort earlier this year. “We had a national press conference with CNN, local papers, FOX News. We gave them a tour of our financial records and financial offices and again those accusations that were raised, no evidence was found,” she offered.
Boehm explained that “Jackson’s entire career has been marked with financial irregularities going back to grant money in the 1970s with federal auditors to the present day use of charitable funds to pay his mistress.” The latter accusation refers to a scandal that became public when Jackson admitted he had fathered a child out of wedlock with a former employee, Karin Stanford.
According to the NLPC, Jackson also may have used funds from his Citizenship Education Fund to help Stanford buy a house in Los Angeles, a charge Jackson’s organization denies. “There is a compelling pattern that Jackson helps those in the minority community that help him first,” Boehm noted.
Peyton defended Jackson’s tactics and said there was nothing unusual about them. “There might be persons, that the reverend or our trade bureau members are familiar with their records, their work histories and their ability to provide services. The average person would only want to recommend persons that they have worked with personally or could vouch comfortably for them,” she explained. “But as far as it being exclusively for a particular group of people, that is not the case at all.”
Even Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the liberal icon and former Attorney General in his brother’s Presidential administration has serious criticisms for Jackson. RFK Jr. kept notes for his journal during his month-long stint in a Puerto Rican prison. He, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson’s wife, Jacqueline, were charged with trespassing during protests on Vieques, the Puerto Rican island the US Navy used as a bombing range.
“The Revs. Jackson and Sharpton …give me the creeps,” Kennedy wrote in a July 5 entry. “Al Sharpton has done more damage to the black cause than (segregationist Alabama Gov.) George Wallace. He has suffocated the decent black leaders in New York,” … “His transparent venal blackmail and extortion schemes taint all black leadership.”
He went on to call Sharpton a “buffoon” who has never escaped the “stench” of his advocacy for Tawana Brawley, the black Dutchess County teen who fabricated a story about six white men raping her in 1987.
He wrote that Jesse Jackson has “a desperate and destructive addiction to publicity.” He recalled that Jackson, at labor leader Cesar Chavez’s funeral, pushed “Cesar’s friends and family out of the way to make himself lead pall bearer.” “His love affair with [Nation of Islam leader] Louis Farrakhan and his Jewish xenophobia are also unforgivable,” Kennedy added. “I feel dirty around him, and I feel like I’m being used. I feel like with Jesse, it’s all about Jesse.”
Al Sharpton came into the national spotlight as a leader of the black community when he gained notoriety in 1987–88 for inserting himself into an amazing scheme to extort the small town of Newburgh, New York involving Tawana Glenda Brawley, a young African-American woman from Wappingers Falls, New York, who falsely accusing six white men of having raped her.
The charges received widespread national attention because of her age (15), the persons accused (including police officers and a prosecuting attorney), and the shocking state in which Brawley was found after the alleged rape (in a trash bag, with racial slurs written on her body and covered in feces). Brawley’s accusations were given widespread media attention in part from the involvement of her advisers [how many unknown 15-year old’s have advisors?], including Al Sharpton and attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason.
After hearing evidence, a grand jury concluded in October 1988 that Brawley had not been the victim of a forcible sexual assault and that she herself may have created the appearance of such an attack. The New York prosecutor whom Brawley had accused as one of her alleged assailants successfully sued Brawley and her three advisers for defamation.
Brawley initially received considerable support from the African-American community. Some suggested that Brawley was victimized by biased reporting that adhered to racial stereotypes. The mainstream media’s coverage drew heated criticism from the African-American press and many black leaders who could brook no degree of skepticism or disbelief of the teenager and her story. The grand jury’s conclusions decreased support for Brawley and her advisers.
On November 28, 1987, Tawana Brawley, who had been missing for four days from her home in Wappingers Falls, New York, was found seemingly unconscious and unresponsive, lying in a garbage bag several feet from an apartment where she had once lived. Her clothing was torn and burned, her body smeared with feces. She was taken to the emergency room, where the words “KKK”, “nigger”, and “bitch” were discovered written on her torso with a black substance described as charcoal.
A detective from the Sheriff’s Juvenile Aid Bureau, among others, was summoned to interview Brawley, but she remained unresponsive. The family requested a black officer, which the police department was able to provide. Brawley, described as having an “extremely spacey” look on her face, communicated with this officer with nods of the head, shrugs of the shoulder, and written notes. The interview lasted 20 minutes, during which she uttered only one word: “neon”.
Through gestures and writing, however, she indicated she had been raped repeatedly in a wooded area by three white men, at least one of whom, she claimed, was a police officer. A sexual assault kit was administered, and police began building a case. Brawley provided no names or descriptions of her assailants. She later told others that there had been no rape, only other kinds of sexual abuse.
Forensic tests found no evidence that a sexual assault of any kind had occurred. There was no evidence of exposure to elements, which would have been expected in a victim held for several days in the woods at a time when the temperature dropped below freezing at night. Public response to Brawley’s story was at first mostly sympathetic. Actor Bill Cosby, among others, pledged support and helped raise money for a legal fund. In December 1987, 1,000 people, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, marched through the streets of Newburgh, New York, in support of Brawley.
Brawley’s claims in the case captured headlines across the country. Public rallies were held denouncing the incident. Racial tension climbed. When civil rights activist Sharpton, with attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, began handling Brawley’s publicity, the case quickly took on an explosive edge. At the height of the controversy in June 1988, a poll showed a gap of 34 percentage points between blacks (51%) and whites (85%) on the question of whether she was lying.
Sharpton, Maddox, and Mason generated a national media sensation. The three claimed officials all the way up to the state government were trying to cover up defendants in the case because they were white. Specifically, they named Steven Pagones, an Assistant District Attorney in Dutchess County, as one of the rapists, and called him a racist, among other accusations.
The mainstream media’s coverage drew heated criticism from the African-American press and leaders for its treatment of the teenager. They cited the leaking and publication of photos taken of her at the hospital and the revelation of her name despite her being underage. In addition, critics were concerned that Brawley had been left in the custody of her mother, stepfather and advisers, rather than being given protection by the state, and that she was used as a pawn by adults who should have protected her.
The case exposed apparently deep (or easily manipulated) mistrust in the black community about winning justice from legal institutions. Some opinions remained fixed. Legal scholar Patricia J. Williams wrote in 1991 that the teenager “has been the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there, no matter who did it to her and even if she did it to herself.”
[Now that’s truly “nutty” speaking. The parallels between this case – where a monstrous lie begot massive, uncritical, racial unrest, and the series of high-profile incidents involving young African-Americans and authorities in 2015-16 – are striking.]
These comments aroused controversy as well. On May 21, 1990, one of her attorneys, Alton H. Maddox, was indefinitely suspended by the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn after failing to appear before a disciplinary hearing to answer allegations regarding his conduct in the Brawley case.
In 1998, Pagones was awarded $345,000 (he sought $395 million) through a lawsuit for defamation of character that he had brought against Sharpton, Maddox and Mason. The jury found Sharpton liable for making seven defamatory statements about Pagones, Maddox for two and Mason for one. In a later interview, Pagones said the turmoil caused by the accusations of Brawley and her advisers had cost him his first marriage and much personal grief.
Pagones had also sued Brawley. She defaulted by not appearing at the trial, and the judge ordered her to pay him damages of $185,000. The $65,000 judgment levied against Al Sharpton was paid for him in 2001 by supporters,
Then, Sharpton really got busy in the racial controversy business. In 2008, Anheuser-Busch gave him six figures, Colgate-Palmolive shelled out $50,000 and Macy’s and Pfizer have contributed thousands to Sharpton’s charity. Almost 50 companies – including PepsiCo, General Motors, Wal-Mart, FedEx, Continental Airlines, Johnson & Johnson and Chase – and some labor unions sponsored Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) annual conference in April.
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 US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn conducted a grand-jury investigation of NAN’s finances.
A General Motors spokesman told the New York Post that NAN had repeatedly – and unsuccessfully – asked for contributions for six years, beginning in August 2000. Then, in December 2006, Sharpton threatened to call a boycott of the carmaker over the closing of an African-American owned GM dealership in the Bronx, and he picketed outside GM headquarters on Fifth Avenue. The next year General Motors gave NAN a $5,000 donation. It gave $5,000 more [the next] year, a spokesman said, calling NAN a “worthy” organization.
In November 2003, Sharpton picketed Daimler-Chrysler’s Chicago car show and threatened a boycott over alleged racial bias in car loans. “This is institutional racism,” he bellowed. In May 2004, Chrysler began supporting NAN’s conferences, which include panels on corporate responsibility and civil rights and a black-tie awards dinner to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Last year, Sharpton gave Chrysler an award for corporate excellence.
In 2003, Sharpton targeted American Honda for not hiring enough African-Americans in management. “We support those that support us,” wrote Sharpton and the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, president of NAN’s Michigan chapter, in a letter to American Honda. “We cannot be silent while African-Americans spend hard-earned dollars with a company that does not hire, promote or do business with us in a statistically significant manner.” Two months after American Honda execs met with Sharpton, the carmaker began to sponsor NAN’s events – and continues to pay “a modest amount” each year, a spokesman said.
“I think this is quite clearly a shakedown operation,” said Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center in Virginia, a conservative corporate watchdog. “He’s good at harassing people and making noise. CEOs give him his way because it is a lot easier than confronting him.” Sharpton denied his organization pressures corporations for cash. “That’s the old shakedown theory that the anti-civil-rights forces have used against us forever,” he told The Post. “Why can’t they come up with one company that says that? No one has criticized me.” [Of course not, they’re afraid!]
NAN, a tax-exempt nonprofit, closely guards its corporate largesse. Most companies also keep the sums secret, and some would not divulge them. The corporations interviewed by The Post viewed their relationships with NAN as friendly and beneficial. Anheuser-Busch states on its Web site that it gave the group “between $100,000 and $499,000” last year.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found NAN had failed to file years’ worth of financial reports. The group has filed more records, but the AG’s office said it won’t release them pending the US attorney’s probe. In its 2006 IRS filing, the latest available, NAN reported about $1 million in contributions and $1.1 million in expenses and programs. It still owes the IRS $1.9 million in payroll taxes.”
A NAN spokesman said the group is cooperating with authorities “to pay whatever obligations it owes and continues to do so.” What a shock. Apparently the laws against extortion have been repealed for high profile race hustlers like Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson. And not only that, it is tax exempt!
In claiming the mantle of leadership of the civil rights agenda after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, Jackson, Sharpton and their ilk, people like Adam Clayton Powell and Charles Rangel of Harlem, Marion Barry of Washington, D.C., and Willie Brown of San Francisco and other leftovers from the New Deal, hijacked the chance that was within the grasp of the African-American community to take full advantage of the equal opportunity promised in the Constitution by convincing blacks in America that equality really meant equality-of-outcome, regardless of the personal circumstances [and that equality-of-outcome means equality-of-effort.]
Their campaigns of extortion and demagoguery resulted in demands by black voters in the succeeding decades to have the government, especially the federal government, guarantee a comfortable middle-class existence from cradle-to-grave through (read mainly white) taxpayer funded programs to supplement income, housing, food, education [a better term would be indoctrination – with the enthusiastic cooperation of the NEA and AFT], school supplies, transportation, health insurance, cell phones, home computers and more – based on the false premise that they could not achieve a middle-class standard of living through their own efforts.
What Jackson, Sharpton and their ilk did [and what Barack Obama, after 8-years with the unparalleled power of the Presidential “bully-pulpit”, did not undo] was more than cynical, more than criminal – it was evil – effectively selling their people into slavery just like the princes of Africa did so long ago – a slavery of dependence upon an uncaring bureaucracy beholden to a morally corrupt Progressive/liberal political class and burdened by the discrimination of low expectations that has kept them in a perpetual state of economic, educational and spiritual (not religious) poverty for more than fifty years.
This to a people who had overcome betrayal by their own leaders in Africa, survived the Middle Passage, endured almost a quarter-millennium in slavery to emerge with a vibrant, indomitable and unique culture and then to suffer through another century of separation from their rights as citizens to dream that anything was possible – yet to rise time and again in the 1870s, 1920s and 1950s with the dream to enter the American mainstream as full and equal citizens. This betrayal must rank with the true outrages of history.
This has resulted in the creation of a vast government dependent African-American population who, quite predictably, support politicians (overwhelmingly Democrats) who promise more of the same – if the African-American community keeps sending them back to Washington.