Sharpton's Cynical Campaign Choice

Reverend Al Dumps Jesse's Best for Bush's Buddy

When the bookkeeper told Watkins that Halloran had finally approved a $5,000 payment to him and a simultaneous $5,000 payment to an ex-girlfriend of Halloran's who'd done next to nothing in the campaign, he said to himself, "Who's Halloran to approve my payment?" It was clear to Watkins that he was no longer in charge. He quit and went back to Jackson Jr. Soon thereafter, Junior endorsed Howard Dean. Though Watkins believes he'd worked loyally and at great expense to himself for Sharpton, the Rev has turned on him, assailing him as a saboteur in last week's Voice.

The truth is that at a pivotal point in Sharpton's career, months before his first presidential primaries, he chose Roger Stone and the dozen associates Stone brought to the campaign, over Watkins and all his rainbow history. He did this in part because of the money that came with Stone. Not only was Stone subsidizing the operation through NAN; he provided critical help in putting together Sharpton's still-pending submission for federal matching funds, helping in Florida, Virginia, and D.C. to push Sharpton over the $5,000 contribution threshold needed in 20 states.

But some of the Stone-tied work is questionable. In Mississippi, for example, where Sharpton is only $250 over the threshold, there are $2,000 in dubious donations. Glenda Glover is listed twice. Six married couples donated with the same check number, though contributions are supposed to be "individual." Two executives from a construction company and two employees of a law firm are listed as giving with the same check number, suggesting that corporate donations were made. One of the construction executives, Dr. Tommie Avant, told the Voice that he did not give to Sharpton, though "my company might have." Lawyer Isaac Byrd said that the second donor listed as employed by his firm, Harold Latham, does not work there, making the fact that Latham's alleged contribution carried the same check number as Byrd's even more mysterious. Without Mississippi, Sharpton, whose submission in Illinois was defective on its face, may not qualify for matching funds.

In a Monday interview, Sharpton attempted again to minimize his ties to Stone, contending they only talked once a week or so, though conceding the relationship "might have been a misstep." He tried, inaccurately, to suggest that everyone from Hillary Clinton to Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile had recommended Halloran. "That's not up my tree," says Brazile. "I'm a real D." Halloran will only talk about one issue, insisting that "not a dime of NAN money" had come into the campaign, bypassing the actual allegation, which is that NAN funds are being used outside the campaign to cover some of its costs.

Related Article:
"Al Sharpton: Sleeping With the GOP" by Wayne Barrett

Research assistance: Andrew Burtless, Tommy Hallissey, Adam Hutton, Christine Lagorio, Brian O'Connor, Catherine Shu, and Jessie Singer

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