On Tuesday, The New York Times took its readers inside the city’s exclusive Four Seasons Restaurant where Al Sharpton celebrated his 60th birthday party at what was dubbed his “party for a cause.”
“Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hailed him as a civil rights icon,” the profile of New York City-based activist and MSNBC began. “President [Barack] Obama sent an aide to read a message commending Mr. Sharpton’s ‘dedication to the righteous cause of perfecting our union.’ Major corporations sponsored the lavish affair.”
It is a spectacular raise for an agitator who began his career inciting race riots outside of Freddy’s Fashion Mart, ruining the lives of the men who were falsely accused of raping Tawana Brawley, and serving as an FBI informant after affiliating with the mafia and expressing interest in securing a hefty amount of cocaine.
Sharpton has been described as Obama’s “go-to man on race” by the well-connected Politico reporter Glenn Thrush. He was contacted directly in August by Valerie Jarrett amid spiraling violence in Ferguson, Missouri, and was deployed to deescalate the situation. Well before Obama’s reelection, Sharpton emerged as one of the president’s most valued outreach figures. In 2010, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Sharpton was tasked to tamp down the “increasingly public criticism in the black community over his economic policy.”
The value Sharpton represented to the Obama White House perhaps made it easier to overlook the fact that, as The Times reported, the MSNBC host is a serial tax evader and violator of the public trust.
“Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligation most people see as inevitable,” The Times reported, “like taxes, rent, and other bills.”
Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.
“With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as ‘abusive,’ or ‘potentially criminal,’ if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful,” The Times report continued.
This is just the kind of economic treason that the president spent much of his reelection campaign railing against, only the public was lead to believe that Obama the populist crusader was railing against businessmen and women who exclusively voted Republican.
Exit question via The Washington Post’s Charles Lane:
When Al Sharpton visits POTUS, does POTUS ever say, "Hey, where's that $4.5 million you owe me?"
— Charles Lane (@ChuckLane1) November 18, 2014