I suspect Al Sharpton’s legion of detractors are in for another disappointment.
It is beyond question that Sharpton’s finances — especially the $4.5 million in state and federal tax liens — have long been an unholy, unforgivable mess, with many of the gory details laid out in damning detail in a long New York Times investigative piece that graced the paper’s front page this week.
These are the same back taxes I wrote about in July 2008, shortly after federal prosecutors dropped a criminal probe of the Rev. and his organization, the National Action Network. As I noted at the time, Sharpton’s legal team — including former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter, who is now the city’s Corporation Counsel — negotiated a deal under which he would pay between $2 and $9 million to resolve a host of personal, business and non-profit tax debts.
Yesterday, Sharpton told me that nearly all of the tax liability has been settled; that he has paid all of his personal taxes; and that the remaining balance of $800,000 includes $400,000 in penalties, which his attorneys are trying to get reduced.
Obviously, the whole episode reflects badly on Sharpton. Most people, confronted with mortifying front-page descriptions of millions in late taxes and suggestions of incompetence and possible fraud, would hide in a closet for a week or so, and remain in embarrassed seclusion until bankruptcy could be declared or debts paid off.
Al Sharpton, who emphatically is not most people, held a press conference. Then he hosted his 3-hour radio show, followed by his hour-long national TV show, which amounts to a typical day at the office for him.