Boycott targets gave to Jackson
By Steve Miller
April 17, 2002

The Rev. Jesse Jackson's newly released tax forms for 2000 reveal that his top donors that year were a who's who of companies that had been threatened with boycotts or other sanctions by Mr. Jackson.

The forms also show that Mr. Jackson's Citizenship Education Fund, his primary tax-exempt group, accepted a $50,000 donation from Kevin Ingram, a convicted criminal and the former head of the mortgage-backed securities desks at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.

Ingram friends with Mr. Jackson for several years last year pleaded guilty to federal money-laundering charges related to Pakistani arms deals. He is in federal prison.

The coffers of the two principal economic engines for Mr. Jackson remained full in 2000, as donations from corporate America flowed freely, the forms show.

The Citizenship Education Fund had $9,262,846 in revenue in 2000, according to the tax forms, a $600,000 decline from the previous year. The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, which is tax-exempt in its home state of Illinois but does not have a federal exemption, saw a $300,000 increase in revenue in 2000.

Tax forms for fiscal 2001 are due in June.

Mr. Jackson's Wall Street Project, aimed at securing employment for minorities, received $4.5 million in 2000 from the education fund.

His contributors for 2000 include many firms that have had business dealings with Mr. Jackson in the past. Viacom, Bell Atlantic and GTE all gave to Mr. Jackson in 2000, and all have been threatened with boycotts or other sanctions by him.

Blaylock & Partners, which received a $750,000 account from AT&T at Mr. Jackson's behest, donated $30,000 to the education fund in 2000. AT&T contributed $425,000.

SBC Communications, which solicited and received the support of Mr. Jackson for its merger with Ameritech, contributed $500,000.

The New York Stock Exchange, which Mr. Jackson has accused of "redlining" minorities, donated $194,634.

Mr. Jackson's office did not return repeated phone calls.

Targets of Jackson boycott threats such as Toyota and SBC Communications have denied any quid pro quo in their subsequent donations.

The civil rights activist is 60 years old, and his organizations continue to incur financial setbacks, requiring a change in accounting practices and a stepped-up effort to collect membership dues in his trade groups.

Earlier this year, Mr. Jackson laid off up to 50 employees from his top three organizations in Chicago. His chief financial officer, Billy Owens, and Emma Chappell, executive director of Mr. Jackson's Wall Street Project, also have departed.

Mr. Jackson is emboldened by a following that accepts his shortcomings, said Mark Thompson, a radio talk-show host on the District's WOL-AM.

"Jesse Jackson is still a very articulate spokesman for the African-American community," Mr. Thompson said. "When it comes to the everyday issues that we face, he is the man who has fought for people."

Mr. Jackson's critics use the apparent quid pro quo business dealings as "grist for the mill," Mr. Thompson said.

"But among his followers, there may be some concerns and some doubts, but people are willing to hold their noses and still be supportive of him and his service to the community."

Mr. Jackson, who earns about $500,000 annually, has repeatedly accused his detractors of having political motivations.

"Jesse Jackson is still telling people that the Republicans are targeting his supporters," an estranged colleague said this week of Mr. Jackson's financial situation.

"He has continued to decline this year, after seeing his revenue fall off last year," he said on the condition of anonymity. "His revenues are down real big. He has these associates who have gotten into all this trouble. And it is still the Republicans' fault."

Mr. Jackson warned a black crowd last year that "we are in danger because of the right wing."

"The right wing has seized government. Watch out in coming days of the right-wing media, the FBI, the IRS, targeting our leadership," he told an audience at November's State of the Black World Conference in Atlanta.

But many of Mr. Jackson's associates have found trouble on their own.

Miss Chappell, who is founder of the United Bank of Philadelphia, was sued by the bank two years ago and accused of misconduct and fraud. In a confidential agreement to settle the suit, Miss Chappell gave up her seat on the bank's board of directors.

Mr. Jackson, though, has relentlessly pushed his agenda. In a column last week, he insisted that President Bush is "systematically weakening the laws and regulation on clean air, clean water, toxic wastes, workplace safety, civil rights and equal protection."

"If they understood what was coming down, the vast majority of Americans whether white, black or brown, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican would oppose this president's assault on the protections and resources we need to meet the challenges we face," Mr. Jackson wrote in a column published on the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Web site.

2002 News World Communications, Inc.