Sleeping With the GOP

A Bush Covert Operative Takes Over Al Sharpton's Campaign

Asked about the $270,000 and the $18,000 by the Voice, Stone replied: "Go badger somebody else." Sharpton said the Voice should get NAN's IRS filings for the payments, knowing that they do not detail revenue sources and don't have to be filed for months. "That was our annual event in California," he said, insisting only that any possible credit card purchases by Stone were NAN-related exclusively. "I asked a lot of people to help." He said the same thing about the loans: "I asked him in terms of the network." The NAN loans are a potential illegal end-run around FEC limits, as are his donated services, which are an in-kind contribution to the campaign from a professional consultant.

The combination of the unpaid or underpaid services of Stone, Halloran, Baynard, Archer, et al., together with the NAN subsidies, paint a picture of a Sharpton operation that is utterly dependent on his new ally Stone, whose own sponsors are as unclear as ever. Stone is friendly with a number of Bush sidekicks, from Baker to powerhouse GOP Washington lobbyists like Wayne Berman and Scott Reed. Berman has received a seven-figure finder's fee from Carlyle, the D.C.-based equity engine that includes Baker. Former president Bush worked for the Carlyle Group until late last year. Halloran's wife, Chris Trampf, works at Carlyle, though Halloran insists she is merely a back-office staffer.

Blackface Bucks

illustration: Bill Mayer


Post-Debate: Al Sharpton in the Spin Room
The Reverend Fields Oddball Questions From the Press (3 min. 4 sec.)

Stone acknowledged that he "helped Sharpton" in the campaign's desperate attempt in November and December to reach the $5,000 matching-fund threshold in 20 states. "I collected checks," he said. "That's how matching funds is done. I like Al Sharpton. I was helping a friend." Sharpton was the last candidate to meet the December 31 deadline and is immediately seeking more than $150,000 in federal funding. If the FEC, which has been reviewing his application for a month, determines that he meets the threshold, Sharpton will be eligible for more.

But he only submitted 21 states, and at least one, Illinois, is unlikely to be certified, since it came in at $5,100 and contains two $250 contributions from the same individual. Only single contributions of up to $250 can count toward the threshold. That means Sharpton's funding—against which he has already taken a $150,000 bank loan—is the lifeblood of the campaign. Stone and Halloran allies, including staffers Johnson and Ruffin, kicked in the last four $250 contributions in D.C., all on December 30 and 31, that gave Sharpton a perilous $5,332 total.

In Florida, Stone's wife, Nydia; son Scott; daughter-in-law Laurie; mother-in-law Olga Bertran; executive assistant Dianne Thorne; Tim Suereth, who lives with Thorne; and Halloran's mother, Jane Stone (unrelated to Roger, he says), pushed Sharpton comfortably over the threshold, donating $250 apiece in December. Jeanmarie Ferrara, who works at a Miami public relations firm that joined Stone in the '90s fight on behalf of the sugar industry against a tax to resuscitate the Everglades, also gave $250, as did the wife of the firm's name partner, Ray Casas. Another lobbyist, Eli Feinberg, a Republican giver appointed to a top position by the Republican state insurance commissioner, did $250.

Clive and Lenore Baldwin, entertainers known for their impersonations of Al Jolson and Sophie Tucker, came in at the matchable maximum as well. Stone adopted their act years ago, producing a Clive Baldwin recording, and putting him onstage at the 1996 Republican National Convention. In a Times tale of a recent Baldwin appearance in Long Island, he wound up being "shown the door" after a "confrontation" with angry black caterers. (Apparently Stone could not locate Amos & Andy for a contribution.)

Two vendors for a current campaign assisted by Stone—the senate campaign of Larry Klayman—also donated in Florida, with public relations consultant Michael Caputo and Tasmania Productions owner Teddi Segal donating $250 (she says she doesn't know Stone). Caputo, ironically, was Stone's spokesman in 1996, when Stone was embroiled in the most embarrassing scandal of his career—the much ballyhooed revelation that he and his wife had advertised, with photos, for swinging partners in magazines and on the Internet. Caputo has, until recently, been handling press inquiries for Klayman, an evangelical who led the sex assault in Washington on Bill Clinton and is running a moral-majority, retake-Cuba campaign for senate. Stone volunteered behind the scenes for Klayman too, and several Stone-tied vendors, like Baynard and pollster Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, have been retained.

In fact, the treasurer of the Klayman campaign, Paul Jensen, a top Bush administration transportation official, joined his wife, Pamela, in making $250 donations on December 30 to Sharpton, helping get him over the threshold in a third state. Jensen contributed to Sharpton, who favors a federal law certifying civil unions for homosexuals, even though the lawyer has filed suits in 16 states seeking to defrock Presbyterian ministers who've "violated their vows" by ordaining gays. Stone has been in frequent touch with Jensen and Klayman in recent months and said that he might have "told Halloran to call him for a check" or asked himself, as he indicated he might have with many others on this list of anomalies.

Though Sharpton conceded that he asked Stone to "help raise the matching funds," he said "everybody helped me qualify," adding that "it's ridiculous" to suggest that Stone's role, though he concedes it made a difference in some states, was of any overall significance. He insisted, accurately, that the bulk of his contributions were from black supporters across the country, attracted to his candidacy. But that does not make any less indispensable the critical, targeted fundraising Stone engineered. Halloran traveled through Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama in a last-ditch December effort to nail down enough to meet the threshold.

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