By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
In his 2003 autobiography, Al on America, the Rev. Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr. admits, “I have been guilty of letting ungodly things around me.” And that was never more true than with the latest revelations about Sharpton, who has now been exposed as a cat’s-paw for the national Republican Party.
Rev. Al has a long and sordid history of posing as the champion of the have-nots, while renting himself out to the greedy have-everythings, which predates his ’04 GOP-funded presidential campaign. In 1986, he endorsed N.Y. Senator Al D’Amato for re-election — although D’Amato, a conservative Republican pit bull, was anathema to more issues-attuned black leaders. In 1994, he helped dampen down the black vote for Governor Mario Cuomo by making a media-hyped appearance with successful conservative Republican candidate George Pataki just days before the election. In the 2001 New York mayoral campaign, he connived with GOP billionaire Michael Bloomberg in the defeat of the Democratic candidate, Mark Green.
But Sharpton has not limited himself simply to supporting candidates considered by most to be inimical to the interests of the impoverished black community. A 1988 investigation by the Long Island daily Newsday revealed that Sharpton, who denounces African-American leaders who disagree with him as “yellow niggers,” had been a longtime FBI informant in a scheme to entrap black leaders and personalities on drug-related matters, even going so far as to wear a wire to record their conversations for the feds.
How did the FBI turn Sharpton into their bitch? Why, they caught Rev. Al up to his hairdo in a drug-money Laundromat in which Don King, the much-indicted boxing promoter and a longtime pal of Sharpton’s, was a central figure. What’s more, the drug deal was an FBI sting — and the feds had it all on videotape, too. Just two years ago, Bryant Gumbel — the second most popular black on television next to Oprah — aired on his HBO Real Sports show an FBI videotape of Sharpton discussing laundering money from a South American drug dealer via King with Michael “Sonny” Franzese, a former Colombo family captain. Sharpton was going to arrange a meeting with King and the coke peddler to set up the deal. But the “South American” was an FBI agent, Franzese had already been turned by the feds into an informant — and Sharpton fell right into their trap. Sharpton became a sting artist for the feds when he was himself stung. After the tape aired, Sharpton announced he was going to sue HBO for a billion bucks. Nothing has been heard of the lawsuit since then.
Now, in his current presidential campaign, Sharpton has been revealed as a wholly owned Republican subsidiary. Sharpton has been used by Republican operatives to discredit real contenders for the Democratic nomination. And the more prominent a place on the Democratic stage Sharpton can command, all the way to Boston, the more the Republicans can use the wisecracking but polarizing preacher-without-a-church as a bogeyman to frighten moderate voters away from the Democratic ticket. That’s the story behind the blockbuster report in the February 5 Village Voice — the L.A. Weekly’s sister paper — in which veteran Voice investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and his team unveiled the malevolent forces keeping Sharpton’s campaign alive: “Roger Stone, the longtime Republican dirty-tricks operative who led the mob that shut down the Miami–Dade County recount and helped make George Bush president in 2000, is financing, staffing, and orchestrating the presidential campaign of Rev. Al Sharpton.”
Who is Roger Stone? A slash-and-burn Republican black-bag election tamperer and consultant whose mentor was the repulsive Roy Cohn — the redbaiting hatchet man for Senator Joe McCarthy. Stone first made news in the Nixon Watergate scandal, when it was revealed that the 19-year-old apprentice McCarthyite had infiltrated George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign as part of CREEP’s sabotage plan. A few other highlights of Stone’s career as the boastful black prince of Republican sleaze: Stone helped Ollie North raise money for the Nicaraguan contras, and was a close associate of the notorious Lee Atwater (the GOP hit man who created the race-baiting Willie Horton TV spots for Bush père’s 1988 presidential campaign).
The New Yorker’sJeffrey Toobin — in his excellent book, Too Close To Call, about the 2000 Florida election — details how Stone was summoned by Bush recount chief James Baker to disrupt the vote counting (Stone and his Cuban wife, Nydia, organized a screaming mob of Miami Cubans outside the headquarters of the canvassing board — Stone directed the mob by walkie-talkie from across the street — and intimidated the board into ending the count). On the stump, Rev. Al has frequently denounced the theft of the presidential election in Florida — which depended in large measure on invalidating black votes. For example, he told a Democratic National Committee meeting last October that “We are witnessing a nonmilitary civil war — it started with the recount in Florida.” So, hopping into bed with Stone might strike many African-Americans as “ungodly” hypocrisy. But the tale gets worse.
When Sharpton launched a vicious attack on Howard Dean for his supposed “anti-black agenda,” the man behind the curtain was Stone, who crowed to The New York Times that he “helped set the tone and direction” of the blast at Dean, while the research for it was provided by the man Stone had installed as Sharpton’s campaign manager, Charles Halloran, one of a half-dozen top aides to Sharpton who worked for Stone in previous campaigns.