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Jesse Jackson's Corporate Cash Cow.

Corporate America has kept hope alive for Jesse Jackson. The Windy City preacher has solicited major companies to support the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and five other nonprofits he heads. CEOs have obliged--and how. According to a new study by Patrick J. Reilly for the Capitol Research Center in Washington, D.C., Jackson's web of organizations snagged $17 million in receipts last year, nearly all from firms and foundations.

But corporate executives and shareholders alike should be disturbed by the extortive circumstances in which Jackson appears to have gathered much of their money. Jackson's outlays are no better. Resembling the homework of a student who failed accounting class, Jackson's tax returns and other records reveal him to be a slipshod steward of corporate gifts. His financial mismanagement sometimes has violated the law.

Jackson's shakedown of the telecom industry is especially striking. In 1999, Jackson's Citizenship Education Fund (CEF) received $142,000 from AT&T, $375,000 from Bell Atlantic, $377,000 from Viacom, $500,000 from SBC and Ameritech, and $625,000 from GTE, among other patrons. Jackson initially opposed proposed mergers among these firms. He called SBC's and Ameritech's deal "antithetical to basic democratic values." Yet he eventually supported the deals once these firms donated to CEF and approved JVs with minority-owned firms, including some tied to Jackson's family.

As reported on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor," CEF raised $2,077,219 in 1998 and $9,919,914 in 1999. Meanwhile, it spent only $30,933 and $15,699 on education and research in those years respectively. CEF dedicated just 0.39 percent of its budget to its stated purpose.

What about the rest of the money? Salaries and wages cost $1.5 million while non-itemized travel and conference expenses consumed $2,486,449 in 1999 alone. CEF listed $1.3 million in fees to unnamed consultants. The $222,000 in unspecified miscellaneous items is nearly as mysterious as the zero monies spent on fundraising fees, printing, and publications. CEF also famously paid $35,000 to relocate Karin Stanford, the mother of Jackson's love child, to Los Angeles.

Jackson's tax records and organizational arrangements are as transparent as the La Brea Tar Pits. One could become fossilized trying to unbraid the intermingled receipts, conjoined payments, overlapping expenses, and interlocking trustees that constitute his non-profit empire.

The New York Post and Chicago Tribune have outlined glaring errors in CEF's corrected IRS form 990 for 1999. A $10,000 Compaq grant to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition ended up on CEF's ledgers, as did a $25,000 Coors Brewing Co. check to PUSH for Excellence. Wells Fargo has no record of a $200,000 check CEF claims it sent.

People United to Save Humanity (PUSH) pays Jackson's $120,000 salary. As a religious institution, it need not file state or federal tax returns. However, it charges $69,600 of Jackson's annual paycheck to CEF and $50,400 to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

Jackson also flouts the most basic reporting rules. Through last fall, Illinois officials had not received Rainbow/PUSH's 1999 and 2000 financial statements. CEF and PUSH for Excellence are registered in Ohio. Ohio's Secretary of State has sent each group at least three letters demanding annual reports required by law. Jackson's groups have kept many of their federal tax filings secret despite IRS regulations mandating their public availability.

Oversight of these groups is strictly incestuous. CEF's executive director serves on the PUSH for Excellence board with Jackson's son, Jonathan. Four Rainbow/PUSH board members, including Jackson's wife, are among CEF's nine directors. Labor leader Dennis Rivera, Rainbow/PUSH's co-chairman, runs Keep Hope Alive PAC.

Cypress Semiconductor's T.J. Rodgers is one of the few CEOs to resist Jackson's tactics. Jackson visited Silicon Valley in 1999 to allege a lack of racial diversity. "It's insulting that Jesse Jackson flies into the Silicon Valley, which I revere as one of the best places on Earth and one of the most unprejudiced places on Earth, and tells us we're prejudiced," Rodgers said. Jackson's camp replied: "We can now officially describe Cypress Semiconductor as a white-supremacist hate group."

Jesse Jackson similarly may denounce as racist those firms that spurn his fundraising overtures. But CEOs should reject Jackson's intimidation. They now have fiduciary reasons to steer corporate gifts far from the Bermuda Triangle that is Jesse, Inc.

New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and a Hoover Institution media fellow.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:charitable donations
Author:MURDOCK, DEROY
Publication:Chief Executive (U.S.)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:741
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