Allen B. West

Al Sharpton shakes down corporations for big bucks so he won’t label them racist

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As we start the new year, I’ve been thinking about all the talk from the progressive socialist far left about money in politics – which we’ll soon see ramping up in advance of the presidential election cycle of 2016. Related to that is the rise of crony capitalism — Solyndra comes to mind.

The last thing our free market economic system needs is government nepotism picking winners and losers in the marketplace. However, even more disconcerting is that corporate extortion based on political agendas is beginning to plague our economy, played out by none other than the poster child for race baiting extortion, Al Sharpton.

Good old Al seems to have developed quite a nice little “consulting business,” essentially shaking down corporations for cash in order to burnish their images.

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As reported by the New York Post, “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 (NAN). What they get in return is the reverend’s supposed sway in the black community or, more often, his silence.”

“Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal met with the activist preacher after leaked e-mails showed her making racially charged comments about President Obama.”

Of course if a known conservative had made such comments about President Obama’s movie-going preferences, it would still be making headlines until that person was fired or financially destroyed.

And let’s not forget the hypocrisy of Sharpton’s NAN owing an estimated $4.5 million in back taxes with no consequence. Sharpton’s defense? It’s racist to mention it!

I suppose the success of NAN indicates corporate extortion is now an accepted cost of doing business. Or is it just accepted when it’s politically expedient based on the new definitions of right and wrong?

“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.”

What kind of America is it where corporations are fearful of a single individual? I find it hard to believe there’s a “need” for a working group on racial bias in Hollywood.

And how is it that this same individual — with a nefarious and questionable past — can demand and receive audience with the president of the United States and the mayor of the largest city in America? Could it be that Barack Obama aka Barry Soetoro and Bill de Blasio aka Warren Wilhelm Jr., fully embrace and endorse corporate extortion? I only include those facts to demonstrate how things are not always what they seem.

“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 as The Post states, “One example of Sharpton’s playbook has emerged in tax filings and a state inspector general’s report. In 2008, Plainfield Asset Management, a Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund, made a $500,000 contribution to New York nonprofit Education Reform Now. That money was immediately funneled to the National Action Network. The donation raised eyebrows. Although the money was ostensibly to support NAN’s efforts to bring “educational equality,” it also came at a time that Plainfield was trying to get a lucrative gambling deal in New York. Plainfield had a $250 million stake in Capital Play, a group trying to secure a license to run the coming racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Capital Play employed a lobbyist named Charlie King, who also was the acting executive director of NAN. Sharpton has said that most of the Plainfield contribution went to pay King’s salary. King’s company, the Movement Group, was paid $243,586 by NAN in 2008, tax records show.”

Now, I don’t mean to be redundant but just imagine if any black conservative owed the IRS and was running such a scheme? I doubt Fox News would give them their own show. And it goes without saying they wouldn’t be visiting the White House — but rather the Big House. Why does America turn a blind eye to this abhorrent behavior – not to mention the whole Tawana Brawley incident – and quite literally pays homage? This “white guilt” is big business.

“Sharpton raised $1 million for NAN at his 60th birthday bash in October, with donations rolling in from unions and a corporate roster of contributors including AT&T, McDonald’s, Verizon and Walmart. Companies have long gotten in line to pay Sharpton. Macy’s and Pfizer have forked over thousands to NAN, as have General Motors, American Honda and Chrysler. NAN had repeatedly and without success asked GM for donations for six years beginning in August 2000, a GM spokesman told The Post. Then, in 2006, Sharpton threatened a boycott of GM over the planned closing of an African-American-owned dealership in The Bronx (remember when many auto dealerships were closed early in Obama’s first term? It seems many had donated to GOP candidates).

“He picketed outside GM’s Fifth Avenue headquarters. GM wrote checks to NAN for $5,000 in 2007 and another $5,000 in 2008. Sharpton targeted American Honda in 2003 for not hiring enough African-Americans in management positions.”

Is this the new way in America? A mobocracy?

“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.”

Sure seems like “support” is defined by Rev. Al Sharpton as doing what he demands — and who determines what is a “statistically significant manner?”

Consumers make decisions with their wallets regarding whose products they will purchase. But having a radical group target corporations in order to extort money isn’t just wrong, it sure seems criminal to me – no matter who does. Remember the assault on Chick-fil-A that was met with Gov. Mike Huckabee’s endorsement to support the company? Chick-fil-A’s sales skyrocketed.

The type of influence exhibited by Al Sharpton against corporations has to disturb us. It’s not in keeping with the principles of a free market economy. I have no qualms about insisting upon reforms or practices that support American workers. But answer me this, in the end for whom is Al Sharpton advocating?

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