Today at National Review Online, Jillian Kay Melchior revisits two mysterious fires at Al Sharpton’s offices, in 1997 and 2003. In both, important documents were allegedly destroyed. Melchior deserves credit for going back so far, reexamining fire department reports, and actually finding people close to the incidents.
Her very detailed story describes two Complaints filed by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) with the Federal Election Commission that reference the fires, and Sharpton’s general disdain for filings and disclosures required of nonprofit organizations and political campaigns. From the article:
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed two complaints with the FEC, helping trigger an investigation into Sharpton’s presidential campaign. The FEC later found that both National Action Network and other entities had illegally paid for travel expenses incurred by Sharpton’s campaign, in part because “Sharpton 2004 kept poor records of its activities and expenditures.”
Based on the NLPC complaints, the FEC eventually reached two conciliation agreements with Sharpton. It fined him $5,500 for failing to file his statements of candidacy on time, and an additional $208,000 for violating campaign-finance laws by “failing to file complete and accurate reports disclosing all of the Committee’s receipts and expenditures” and “knowingly accepting excessive and prohibited in-kind contributions.” It also fined National Action Network and Sharpton $77,000 for making prohibited contributions to his campaign.
For decades, Sharpton has gotten a free ride from the media. Melchior has made a very good attempt to shed light on these incidents. It is a shame the media did not adequately explore them closer to when they occurred, especially as Sharpton rose in prestige and power.
Sharpton’s ascent is detailed in a new book published by NLPC titled Sharpton: A Demagogue’s Rise, by Carl F. Horowitz of our staff.