- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2001

With the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., it has always been difficult to know when his preaching ends and his business and political operations begin. Undoubtedly, one reason is that in both instances Mr. Jackson always has his hand out, palm up. It has always been this way for Mr. Jackson, who told the Federal Election Commission that he raised more than a quarter-million dollars for his 1984 presidential campaign from "collection masses" at churches without raising even a peep from the separation-of-church-and-state crowd. Indeed, by permitting his PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity) organizations to accept a $10,000 payment from Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 1979, Mr. Jackson long ago demonstrated that he isn't particularly concerned about the source of the money, as long as it is green. Indeed, the liberal media have essentially given Mr. Jackson a pass over the numerous financial scandals that have afflicted his organizations, while many conservatives have been too polite to address these issues in public.

So why should it change now? Well, for one reason, Mr. Jackson oversaw nearly $40,000 in questionable payments for "employee reimbursement" and "consulting services" from the so-called Citizenship Education Fund (CEF), one of his nonprofit, tax-exempt offshoots. As Jerry Seper and Steve Miller of The Washington Times reported Monday, those payments went to his mistress to help finance her relocation from Washington, D.C., to southern California and to assist her in securing a nearly $300,000 loan to purchase a five-bedroom house with a pool in upscale Baldwin Hills, south of Los Angeles. The payments began in May 1999, the same month that Karin Stanford, the woman with whom Mr. Jackson had been conducting an extramarital affair since shortly after he hired her to run his Washington operation at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition in 1997, gave birth to a child fathered by Mr. Jackson.

The use of tax-exempt funds for such purposes raises serious questions about the Jackson-controlled enterprise, whose board is headed by one of his sons, Jonathan Jackson. Another son, Yusef, and Mr. Jackson's understandably upset wife of 38 years, Jacqueline, also are members of the CEF board, which approved the payments. These payments seem especially problematic given that scholarships financed by the CEF dropped from $30,000 in 1997 to zero in 1998, according to tax returns and given that the use of taxpayer-subsidized funds should surely invite the interest of the Internal Revenue Service.

Indeed, it wouldn't be the first time Mr. Jackson's organizations have had problems with the federal government. In 1979, federal auditors challenged the way PUSH spent $1.7 million in government grants. Altogether, the departments of Education, Labor, Commerce and Health and Human Services had problems with the way Mr. Jackson's organizations accounted for grants. A negotiated settlement required PUSH to repay more than $500,000. Mr. Jackson's explanation? "They gave us federal grants when we didn't even want them," he told The Washington Times.

That, however, certainly wasn't Mr. Jackson's problem with the Federal Election Commission, which, following his 1988 presidential campaign, found that Mr. Jackson had either misspent or improperly accounted for as much as $700,000 in federal matching funds. Another negotiated settlement required Mr. Jackson's campaign to repay $122,000 to U.S. taxpayers. The latest chapter and verse in Mr. Jackson's litany of financial shenanigans deserves investigating no less.

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