But how does he make the big bucks?
Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein of the New York Post have the skinny:
Want to influence a casino bid? Polish your corporate image? Not be labeled a racist?
Then you need to pay Al Sharpton.
For more than a decade, corporations have shelled out thousands of dollars in donations and consulting fees to Sharpton’s National Action Network. What they get in return is the reverend’s supposed sway in the black community or, more often, his silence.
Even corporate behemoths like Sony Pictures aren’t immune to the Sharpton shakedown:
Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal met with the activist preacher after leaked e-mails showed her making racially charged comments about President Obama. Pascal was under siege after a suspected North Korean cyber attack pressured the studio to cancel its release of “The Interview,” which depicts the assassination of dictator Kim Jong-un.
Pascal and her team were said to be “shaking in their boots” and “afraid of the Rev,” The Post reported.
No payments to NAN have been announced, but Sharpton and Pascal agreed to form a “working group” to focus on racial bias in Hollywood.
Sharpton notably did not publicly assert his support for Pascal after the meeting — what observers say seems like a typical Sharpton “shakedown” in the making. Pay him in cash or power, critics say, and you buy his support or silence.
“Al Sharpton has enriched himself and NAN for years by threatening companies with bad publicity if they didn’t come to terms with him. Put simply, Sharpton specializes in shakedowns,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal & Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog group that has produced a book on Sharpton.
And Sharpton, who now boasts a close relationship with Obama and Mayor de Blasio, is in a stronger negotiating position than ever.
“Once Sharpton’s on board, he plays the race card all the way through,” said a source who has worked with the Harlem preacher. “He just keeps asking for more and more money.”
Sony is not the only corporation that landed in Sharpton’s crosshairs. According to the NY Post, AEG, Plainfield Asset Management, Macy’s, Pfizer, General Motors, American Honda, and Chrysler have all “donated” to Sharpton’s organization.
American Honda and Pepsi share similar stories that illustrate how Sharpton used race to
score a hefty pay-off elicit charitable contributions to his National Action Network.
Sharpton targeted American Honda in 2003 for not hiring enough African-Americans in management positions.
“We support those that support us,” Sharpton wrote to the company. “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 later, car-company leaders met with Sharpton, and Honda began to sponsor NAN’s events. The protests stopped.
Sharpton landed a gig as a $25,000-a-year adviser to Pepsi after he threatened a consumer boycott of the soda company in 1998, saying its ads did not portray African-Americans. He held the position until 2007.
Since brandishing the scarlet R is about as bad a PR nightmare as can happen these days, corporation after corporation has given in to pressure.
The entire article (which you should read) is both illuminating and heartbreaking. For every trumped-up fabrication, there is an instance of actual racism that is demeaned and ignored in favor of an aggressive shakedown.
Follow Kemberlee Kaye on TwitterDONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.