- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said yesterday that he would amend the tax return of one of his tax-exempt groups to include the $120,000 salary that was paid to a staff member with whom he fathered an out-of-wedlock child in 1999.
The amount paid to Karin Stanford was inexplicably withheld from last year's filing from the Citizenship Education Fund, along with the names of several other staffers who made more than $50,000 that year.
The 90-minute news conference was held in the wake of Mr. Jackson's admission that nearly 75 percent of his travel expenses last year were covered by Democratic Party committees.
The event was prefaced by 15 minutes of testimony praising the civil rights leader's contribution to society.
At the outset of the meeting, Mr. Jackson told the assembled media that he was "delighted you have such an interest in what we do."
The 59-year-old civil rights activist defended the financial records of his groups, saying that they reflect "discipline, dignity, integrity, results and legal propriety."
He released financial statements for two of the four organizations that he controls that showed that corporate sponsorships and grants made up at least $12 million of the groups' $15 million in revenue for 2000.
Mr. Jackson defended his groups' reliance on corporate funding. "We look at corporations and ask them, 'We want you to stop boycotting us.' There has been a suggestion they do it out of fear. They relate to us out of hope," he said.
Asked to explain contributions to his organizations from some of the same telecommunications companies that he initially threatened to boycott, Mr. Jackson said: "There's a time to negotiate and a time to confront."
However, accusations have dogged Mr. Jackson that corporations he has targeted have ended up profiting friends and civil rights groups closely associated with the activist.
An internal audit lists corporations that have given donations or grants, including some who have made deals with Jackson friends and family members. Their names had been kept private in the past.
SBC and Ameritech, for example, pledged $500,000 to Jackson-led groups at a time when the companies were seeking state and federal approval to merge. Mr. Jackson initially opposed the deal. However, he dropped his opposition to the SBC merger after Ameritech agreed to sell part of its cellular phone business to his friend, Chester Davenport.
Mr. Jackson defended the fact that some of his friends have benefited from his targeting of corporations, arguing that it is part of the process of opening up business opportunities for minorities. "We never say to a company, 'Take this person or that person.' We offer a list and they do due diligence," he said.
Mr. Jackson called his detractors "right-wing extremists" and, without mentioning specific names, said they were "not normal in their interests."
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a fellow activist, yesterday called the last two months of questioning of Mr. Jackson's finances "an unrelenting attack that is unprecedented since the days of Martin Luther King."
"One would have to question why" Mr. Jackson has been attacked, Mr. Sharpton told The Washington Times. "It is very curious, and it hasn't stopped."
But the revelation that Democratic Party committees funded Mr. Jackson's travel expenses during last year's election endangers the tax-exempt status that he has enjoyed as a civil rights activist, prompting yet another complaint from a public interest group, the third in the past 10 days.
The complaint from the American Conservative Union claims that Mr. Jackson and his tax-exempt groups violated campaign finance law because the funding was used for Mr. Jackson to embark on voter-participation campaigns.
"It is against the law for a corporation, nonprofit or for-profit, to spend corporate treasury funds for voter registration in behalf of a political party," said Cleta Mitchell, a D.C. attorney who is preparing the complaint for the conservative group. "He cannot fly around the country for the Democratic Party to do voter registration. This is a violation of federal law."
Of the myriad tax-exempt and for-profit organizations connected with Mr. Jackson, it is the 16-year-old Citizenship Education Fund that has "voter education" as its express purpose.
In order to avoid taxation of its revenue $10 million in 1999, according to tax returns it agrees to refrain from partisan campaigning.
Several Democratic committees acknowledge donating money to Jackson-affiliated groups.
"We haven't paid any money to Jesse Jackson, but we made a contribution to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition," said Erik Smith, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The congressional campaign committee is $5.2 million in debt, but records show that it paid $100,000 to Mr. Jackson's coalition on Nov. 8.
Mr. Smith said that the funding came from excess soft money funds.
"Republicans give theirs to places like Right to Life, we made a donation to Rainbow/PUSH," he said.
Rick Hess, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, did not disclose the amount the committee paid for Mr. Jackson's travel but said, "I would be surprised if you didn't find this kind of thing on either side. These are very successful activities."
The last few days, however, have been rough for Mr. Jackson.
On Feb. 28, the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia-based conservative watchdog group, filed a tax complaint against Mr. Jackson.
The group's complaint charged that the Citizenship Education Fund may have violated tax law by using funds for personal purposes, questioning whether "paying off a mistress … is a legitimate use of assets." The complaint refers to the $35,000 severance pay package Miss Stanford received after leaving Mr. Jackson's organization.
The American Conservative Union on Tuesday asked the IRS to audit Mr. Jackson and his organizations.
The allegations have not hurt Mr. Jackson's standing among his supporters. He will be the honored guest at the National Newsmaker of the Year award dinner March 16 at Howard University, an event sponsored by the National Newspaper Publisher's Association.
This article is based in part on wire service reports

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