Are RNC donors now bankrolling Sharpton?

Peter Flaherty
National Legal and Policy Center

The annual conference of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) runs today through Saturday in New York City. According to the official program, the “Republican National Convention” is among the 45 sponsors of the event that serves as Sharpton’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Perhaps the program was supposed to read “Republican National Committee.” According to NAN, sponsorship requires a contribution of $5,000 to $100,000.

If the RNC is now a donor to Sharpton’s group, it is another blow to RNC donors, already reeling from the lesbian bondage club episode. It would also mean that RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s staff has been less than forthcoming with me about the RNC’s actual involvement. Steele is speaking at the event this afternoon, an appearance we asked him to cancel. Yesterday, RNC Coalitions Director Angela Sailor insisted to me that Steele’s purpose in participating was to reach the 500-1,000 attendees with the GOP message.

Today, MSNBC’s Mara Schiavocampo, reporting live from the event, said that the RNC told her the same thing in response to her questions about our March 5 request that Steele cancel his speech. Schiavocampo noted the nature of our objections to which the RNC has not responded, namely that Sharpton should not be treated as a “legitimate public figure” and that he has “encouraged anti-Semitism and violence.”

NLPC’s criticisms of Sharpton are carefully documented in our Special Report by Dr. Carl Horowitz titled Mainstreaming Demagoguery: Al Sharpton’s Rise to Respectability, published last year. We provided Steele with a copy on March 5.

While Steele is giving him credibility, Sharpton is busy belittling Republican African-Americans. On Monday, Sharpton claimed on his radio show that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a member of “the white right voting bloc.” His guest went on to attack Thomas’ wife for being a Tea Partier.

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