Al Sharpton's money troubles

A New York Times investigation of Al Sharpton's finances revealed that he owes $4.5 million in back taxes and hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.

It's not the first time Sharpton has fallen behind in tax payments. In 2008, he owed the IRS $1.5 million in taxes on his various business ventures.


Rev. Al Sharpton, the MSNBC host and occasional White House liaison, has “regularly sidestepped” taxes, rent and other bills, according to a new New York Times investigation.

Sharpton has more than $4.5 million in tax liens against him and his businesses, the investigation found. His non-profit organization National Action Network owes some $1.1 million in overdue payroll taxes. He has repeatedly not paid hotels, travel agencies and landlords. He has even relied on friends and his non-profit to pay for his daughter’s education, and been sued twice by his landlord for a cumulative $98,000.

Sharpton told the Times that he is working on paying off the taxes and his outstanding balances are lower than they appear.

“You can say I’m not a great administrator,” he said. “You can’t say that I’m not committed.”

Sharpton's financial problems haven't prevented his rise in influence as a television personality and outspoken voice for civil justice. He has also become one of the White House's go-to guys on racial issues, as our colleague Glenn Thrush reported in August.

It's ridiculous to point out that if Sharpton were a white politician, he would be tarred and feathered, and run out of town on a rail. That would presuppose that there is an even handed treatment of the races in the media that doesn't exist.

Sharpton has committed crimes that would see an ordinary American sent to jail. What would happen to you if you skipped out on a hotel without paying? Or used funds from a non-profit group to pay for your daughter's education? The landlord doesn't dare evict him because he doesn't want hundreds of people demonstrating in front of his office.

Sharpton gets away with this because of the real fear he engenders in businesses that pressing their legitimate claims will bring Sharpton's wrath down upon them. No one wants that kind of bad press, so Sharpton will continue to stiff vendors, avoid taxes, and rob his own non-profit for his personal aggrandizement.