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Black Media Barons Back Sharpton Bid
Donations Help Keep Drive Alive

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 9, 2003


Al Sharpton's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination has so far attracted little support from voters, but plenty of financial backing from a loosely knit coalition of wealthy African American media barons and impresarios.

Sharpton, the fiery and colorful New York preacher, has been the candidate of choice for business executives such as billionaire cable TV mogul Robert L. Johnson of Washington, Cathy Hughes of Radio One Inc. in Maryland, and hip-hop entrepreneurs Russell Simmons and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. Each has given Sharpton the maximum permitted, $2,000.

Indeed, if not for the financial contributions of the black media establishment, Sharpton's underdog candidacy would be even harder pressed for funds. According to records his campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission, Sharpton had spent almost all of the $283,530 he had raised by the end of September. He had just $24,070 cash at that time, more than three months before the first Democratic caucus vote in Iowa. Sharpton's $283,530 total puts his campaign in the fundraising basement among the nine Democratic contenders.

Up one step from the basement is former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.), also African American, who has raised $341,669. Both Sharpton and Moseley Braun are barely registering in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two primary states, which have few minorities.

However, Sharpton is among the leaders in one category: the percentage of campaign funds that have come from large donors (those giving $1,000 or more to a candidate). Thanks in part to Johnson, Hughes and others, Sharpton has raised 82 percent of his funds from large donors, third among all candidates behind President Bush at 84 percent and Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) at 83 percent, according to the Campaign Finance Institute, an organization affiliated with George Washington University.

Sharpton's high-profile backers say they do not realistically expect him to win the Democratic nomination. But they do believe he is raising issues of concern to black Americans that they feel others in the Democratic field have ignored. Several Sharpton supporters say Moseley Braun has not had as high a profile on civil rights issues as Sharpton, who in the past became a lightning rod for criticism for wading into racial controversies in his home state, New York.

"I think what we wanted to do is signal to the Democratic Party that we wanted someone who will be an active voice about issues of concern to African American business people," Johnson said. "We don't want to be courted when you need us and then be forgotten when you get to the White House. The people giving money are saying we no longer will be taken for granted and neglected when you're in office."

Sharpton, who was unavailable for comment, has made a similar point in the past. Writing of his candidacy last year in his book, "Al on America," he said, "Even if I lose, I have the option to negotiate points with the Democratic Party."

Sharpton has based his campaign on raising issues that might be "overlooked," such as affirmative action and abolition of the death penalty, according to his Web site. He favors constitutional amendments guaranteeing voting rights, universal access to health care and "equal high quality" education. He also supports statehood for the District of Columbia.

Sharpton has won spirited applause, wider exposure and a measure of credibility during a series of Democratic candidate debates. But while he has largely avoided statements likely to polarize white voters, Sharpton has yet to generate much mainstream support. He has so far failed even to win the backing of the man to whom he has often compared himself, Jesse L. Jackson. A candidate himself in 1984 and 1988, Jackson has not endorsed anyone this year, leading to speculation of a rift between the Sharpton and Jackson camps.

Jackson's son Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) has endorsed former Vermont governor Howard Dean, which prompted Sharpton to issue a statement denouncing "any so-called African American leader that would endorse Dean despite his anti-black record."

During a debate last week, Sharpton drew attention by rebuking Dean for describing himself in a newspaper interview as "the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks." Sharpton said Dean should apologize for the "insensitive" remark. A day later, Dean did.

The group backing Sharpton represents a powerful collection of media properties targeting African Americans. BET, which Johnson sold to Viacom Inc. in 2001, is available in more than 75 million cable and satellite TV homes. Radio One owns 66 stations nationwide, including WKYS-FM and WMMJ-FM in the Washington area. Two other contributors, David Mays and Keith Clinkscales, head companies that publish such black-oriented magazines as the Source and Savoy, respectively.

None of the media properties has endorsed Sharpton, although his candidacy has been featured in various stories and reports.

Clinkscales, chairman and chief executive of Vanguarde Media, , said Sharpton is "cut from the cloth of the greatest civil rights leaders we've had in this country." He added that a strong Sharpton candidacy could help influence the Democratic Party's platform at its convention next year and draw more African Americans to the polls.

"He gives us an opportunity to tell the party that [African Americans] aren't just ride-along," Clinkscales said. "We're important. The sad part about it is we haven't asked for much, and the little we ask for we have difficulty getting."

Johnson believes that black political power could be magnified if African Americans perceived themselves as a potential third party. Although Sharpton could someday be the leader of such a movement, Johnson conceded "he's not been able to generate the organizational power" that would give him the clout of a Ross Perot or Ralph Nader.

Employees of Radio One -- the Lanham-based company founded by Hughes and headed by her son, Alfred C. Liggins -- have been the single most generous source of funds for Sharpton's campaign. In addition to Hughes, Liggins and syndicated Radio One disc jockey Russ Parr, who have each given $2,000, 12 other officers and employees of the company contributed $6,800 to Sharpton, according to federal records.

Other financial backers include Black Enterprise magazine founder Earl G. Graves; Essence magazine chairman Edward Lewis; comedian Steve Harvey; and Pierre M. Sutton, chairman of the board of Inner City Broadcasting Corp., a New York-based company that owns 17 stations; Los Angeles attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.; record producer Antonio "L.A." Reid; and Abner Louima. Sharpton publicly supported Louima after the Haitian immigrant was tortured by New York City police after an arrest in 1997. The city of New York agreed to pay Louima $7.1 million in 2001 to settle his suit.

In 1998, Sharpton paid a $65,000 libel judgment with help from Graves, Lewis and Percy E. Sutton, co-founder of Inner City Broadcasting, and Pierre Sutton, Percy Sutton's father, Sharpton told American Prospect magazine. The payment settled a suit brought by New York prosecutor Steven Pagones, whom Sharpton had named as a participant in the alleged rape of a black teenager named Tawana Brawley.

In 1999, Sutton, Graves and Lewis were among the first to be arrested at a sit-in protest organized by Sharpton after the death of Amadou Diallo, the unarmed Bronx peddler who was shot 41 times by New York City police. They were also among a group prominent African Americans who endorsed Republican Michael R. Bloomberg for mayor of New York in 2001.

Percy Sutton, a former Manhattan borough president, compared Sharpton's campaign to Jackson's first presidential campaign: "I remember someone on talk radio saying Jesse can't win, and a lady said, 'He's already winning every time he's on TV.' There's a large body of people in America who will come out to vote in the primaries who will be there because [Sharpton] is on the ballot."

BLACK by NATURE, PROUD by CHOICE.
Free your mind, and the rest will follow.
 
 BLACK by NATURE, PROUD by CHOICE.
Original Post

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quote:

"I think what we wanted to do is signal to the Democratic Party that we wanted someone who will be an active voice about issues of concern to African American business people," Johnson said. "We don't want to be courted when you need us and then be forgotten when you get to the White House. The people giving money are saying we no longer will be taken for granted and neglected when you're in office."

Sharpton, who was unavailable for comment, has made a similar point in the past. Writing of his candidacy last year in his book, "Al on America," he said, "Even if I lose, I have the option to negotiate points with the Democratic Party."

Sharpton has based his campaign on raising issues that might be "overlooked," such as affirmative action and abolition of the death penalty, according to his Web site. He favors constitutional amendments guaranteeing voting rights, universal access to health care and "equal high quality" education. He also supports statehood for the District of Columbia.

Sharpton has won spirited applause, wider exposure and a measure of credibility during a series of Democratic candidate debates. But while he has largely avoided statements likely to polarize white voters, Sharpton has yet to generate much mainstream support. He has so far failed even to win the backing of the man to whom he has often compared himself, Jesse L. Jackson. A candidate himself in 1984 and 1988, Jackson has not endorsed anyone this year, leading to speculation of a rift between the Sharpton and Jackson camps.

Jackson's son Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) has endorsed former Vermont governor Howard Dean, which prompted Sharpton to issue a statement denouncing "any so-called African American leader that would endorse Dean despite his anti-black record."


That proves a few things to me, 1) Johnson is still for our people, even with his billions; 2) Sharpton has made the necessary connections with Black money, (he already has a level of grass roots support), and 3) his agenda is on point and he's proberbly surprising himself yet again, like he did with the NY Senate race (about 20%of the vote, which included White folk from upstate) or the NYC Mayorial race (received 30% of the vote just bearly loosing in dem race).

This is working out great for Sharpton, which means it's working out great for Blacks. Sadly, it also means it works out better for the 'condi' type Blacks because White folk will be so scared of Sharpton that they will prop up 'prop 9' type folk in order to have their agenda carried out ie: Thomas.

Keep doing your thing Sharpton.

<>

... its time for Prosperity


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An African American Board Game Of Wealth & Success.

quote:
Originally posted by Our Empowerment:

Sharpton has based his campaign on raising issues that might be "overlooked," such as affirmative action and abolition of the death penalty, according to his Web site. He favors constitutional amendments guaranteeing voting rights, universal access to health care and "equal high quality" education. He also supports statehood for the District of Columbia.



This may be true, but how much of this has entered the debate with his peers? Of what use is it for him to hold certain positions if the only place we see them is on his website?

I like Sharpton. I think he adds a clarity and "righteousness" to the issues that no one else can. At the same time, I wonder whether he is introducing these issues into the debate to a great enough degree. Isn't that the whole point of his candidacy? He's not really running for president. He's running to have his views become a part of the debate. I'm not sure that that's happening enough.

Here's a contrast. EVERY TIME I hear Carol speak, she talks about women and women's interests. She won the endorsement of the NOW and she pays them back every time she speaks. I wish Al would use his national platform just a bit more for African America.

quote:
This is working out great for Sharpton, which means it's working out great for Blacks.



Not sure about this. Again, I think he could be working our agenda MUCH harder. What group is more loyal to Democrats than AA's? Why do I have to wait for Howard Dean to bring up race???

quote:
Sadly, it also means it works out better for the 'condi' type Blacks because White folk will be so scared of Sharpton that they will prop up 'prop 9' type folk in order to have their agenda carried out ie: Thomas.



Agree. The Republicans have actually put the Democrats in a tight spot vis-a-vis their black appointments. With Powell and Rice front and center in the administration it's going to be tough for Dems to beat that!


There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life
that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela
I agree, Our Empowerment, I think this says a great deal about Al and his campaign!

Of course we can't expect the mainstream media to put Al or his issues and statements out there for us to see, but he is out there making speeches and being among the people ... and I've seen video clips and read a few news stories coming out of the Black media sources, and his message is unwavering .... everything that this Administration has done and is doing is in no way for the benefit of its citizens and that there is a better way to do it! His platform is primarily domestic and that makes me wonder about what kind of foreign policy he may have Eek. But he is all about changing things for the better as far as the common, everyday Joe or Joleen citizen goes .... and I don't think there's any question that he is concerned first and foremost with the Blacks citizens of America, and he really makes no bones about that is where his loyalty lies! Smile

And money isn't everything ... I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't another lesson he teaches some folks around here! Big Grin

BLACK by NATURE, PROUD by CHOICE.
Free your mind, and the rest will follow.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:

"This may be true, but how much of this has entered the debate with his peers? Of what use is it for him to hold certain positions if the only place we see them is on his website?"


quote:
Originally posted by Our Empowerment:

Brotha, it's on your site too, Big Grin (not like you now got the koodies, but you know) and believe me it's in many other places as well.



The point is not that he holds positions, it's that he hasn't seemed to be able to get those issues more into the over-all debate - which is the entire point of his candidacy it would seem. I wonder whether he (as perhaps Jesse did as well) gets desirous of attracting more white voters and therefore garnering more personal political capital - as opposed to consistently hitting the issues of his primary constituency hard and strong.

Don't get me wrong. I like Al. I just wonder whether black America is getting the most that it could from him.


There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life
that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela
OE - somehow in posting my response to you, your original post was deleted. This is a bug that has occurred here periodically. I'm really sorry about it! I really vibed with your idea about inviting the candidates here and am going to pursue that. If you'd like to recreate the essence of your post again I would personally be very grateful.

Thanks and sorry for the bug! brofrown


There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life
that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
OE - somehow in posting my response to you, your original post was deleted.


What!!! Frown , upset, ohhhh, welll rotflmao

hahahahahaaaha,

Ok, here is the essence: give Sharpton a call, interview him and learn of him for yourself, 212-987-5020.

Just don't forget that he is human, and as such is also appreciative of the attention that comes with being a precher, activist, candidate for political office, or anyone infront of an audiance or camera.

The bottom line for me, is 'who do I believe would do the best for our people if elected', clearly that is Sharpton. Giving my early support as well as my subsequent vote gives him a level of power that he is able to use in order to leverage Black concerns on the political stage/landscape.

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