REV. AL SOAKS UP BOYCOTT BUCKS
BIZ GIANTS PAY OR FACE RACE RALLIES
By ISABEL VINCENT and SUSAN EDELMAN
June 15, 2008 -- Anheuser-Busch gave him six figures, Colgate-Palmolive shelled out $50,000 and Macy's and Pfizer have contributed thousands to the Rev. Al Sharpton's charity.
Almost 50 companies - including PepsiCo, General Motors, Wal-Mart, FedEx, Continental Airlines, Johnson & Johnson and Chase - and some labor unions sponsored Sharpton's National Action Network annual conference in April.
Terrified of negative publicity, fearful of a consumer boycott or eager to make nice with the civil-rights activist, CEOs write checks, critics say, to
The cash flows even as the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn has been conducting a grand-jury investigation of
A General Motors spokesman told The Post that
Then, in December 2006, Sharpton threatened to call a boycott of the carmaker over the closing of an African-American-
Last year, General Motors gave
In November 2003, Sharpton picketed DaimlerChrysler'
"This is institutional racism," he bellowed.
In May 2004, Chrysler began supporting
In 2003, Sharpton targeted American Honda for not hiring enough African-Americans in management.
"We support those that support us," wrote Sharpton and the Rev. Horace Sheffield III, president of NAN's
Two months after American Honda execs met with Sharpton, the carmaker began to sponsor
I think this is quite clearly a shakedown operation," said Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and
Sharpton denies his organization pressures corporations for cash.
"That's the old shakedown theory that the anti-civil-rights forces have used against us forever," he told The Post yesterday. "Why can't they come up with one company that says that? No one has criticized me."
A businessman who hired Sharpton as a consultant says the flamboyant leader skillfully persuades CEOs by wielding the statistic that African-Americans spend $738 billion a year.
"His way of doing things was, 'If we're going to support you and you're not going to support us, then we have to focus on telling the African-American community not to spend their money,' " said La-Van Hawkins, a partner in Hawkins Food Group, which owns and operates fast-food franchises nationwide.
Hawkins spoke from the Yankton Federal Prison in
After Hawkins lost an attempt to sue Burger King in 2000 for denying him franchises, he sent Sharpton, attorney Johnnie Cochran and a
"They ended up settling with me for $31 million," Hawkins said.
Sharpton did not get a cut, but Hawkins Food Group paid him an annual $25,000 fee, Hawkins said. He said he has donated "over $1 million" to
Sharpton has snagged other gigs as a consultant. Less than a year after he threatened to call for a consumer boycott of Pepsi in June 1998 because the company's ads did not portray African-Americans, the company hired him as a $25,000-a-year adviser until 2007.
Sharpton made the same complaint against Macy's in 1998. The company appointed Sharpton an unpaid adviser on diversity, but also funds
In a dramatic flip-flop, Sharpton in 2000 blasted
"We will not allow you to enslave our communities, Mr. Ratner," Sharpton told a rally. "You must meet with us - you must come to terms with the poverty you are creating using public dollars."
By 2004, the developer's company, Forest City Ratner, had begun to fork over thousands of dollars to
"Just because Pepsi and other companies had me on their board advising them didn't mean that I wasn't blasting them all the time," said Sharpton.
NAN, which began humbly in
"Sharpton went national just like a franchise," said Flaherty. "Each of these local chapters can now hit up businesses for support in their communities."
In 2002, NAN launched a
It's unclear how much the chapter has raised, because
Sharpton vowed to call a national boycott against MGM Mirage in 2001 and 2002 if it refused to meet with him to discuss alleged racism in hiring and employment at the company's
In 2003, MGM named NAN one of its diversity "partners" in
Sharpton sticks up for his corporate patrons.
Since 2005, Wal-Mart has given yearly support to
In 2006, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a Sharpton rival, accused the retailer of buying silence from critics of its employment practices by trying to "throw money at us."
At the time, Sharpton rushed to the company's defense. "Wal-Mart has in no way tried to persuade me with money," he declared.
Anheuser-Busch states on its Web site that it gave the group "between $100,000 and $499,000" last year.
Last year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found
In its 2006 IRS filing, the latest available,
NEWS CORP. GAVE TO SHARPTON
By ISABEL VINCENT
June 15, 2008 --
In 2005, the Rev. Al Sharpton reached out to News Corp., which owns The Post, over the common cause of revising the way Nielsen measures television audiences - especially minority viewers.
News Corp. had been conducting a public campaign and Sharpton "likened it to a civil-rights cause," said a company spokesman.
"After partially fulfilling his promise to publicize our efforts within his community of supporters, Rev. Sharpton asked the company to contribute $25,000 to [the National Action Network's] annual conference," said the spokesman.
News Corp. made the donation. No additional donations have been made.