- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

CHICAGO The Rev. Jesse Jackson's financial empire took a $3 million loss of revenue in 2001, newly released tax records show, as he continued to receive financial backing from companies he has threatened with boycotts over the years.

Mr. Jackson's primary funding mechanism, the tax-exempt Citizenship Education Fund, saw its contributions drop from $9.2 million in 2000 to $6.2 million in 2001.

Among the 2001 benefactors of the 20-year-old education fund who were at one time either threatened with boycotts by or were "in discussion with" Mr. Jackson were AT&T ($300,000), Burger King ($100,000), Coca Cola ($50,000), McDonald's ($100,000), NASCAR ($150,000), SBC Communications ($152,950) and United Parcel Service ($55,000).

The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, which is not tax exempt, reported 2001 revenue of $5.2 million, about the same as in 2000. Its income includes $1.1 million in contributions in 2001, down from $1.3 million in 2000. The source of donations to for-profit corporations is not subject to tax-disclosure laws.

Mr. Jackson's education fund received a $100,000 contribution from the Mel Karmazin Foundation, whose namesake is president of Viacom Inc.

Mr. Jackson in early 2001 pressured Mr. Karmazin, at that time chairman of CBS, to sell subsidiary UPN network to a minority owner.

That deal was never completed, but Mr. Jackson abruptly halted his campaign for the sale.

Mr. Jackson, who Monday opened his sixth annual Wall Street Project Conference in New York, could not be reached for comment.

Other donors to the Citizenship Education Fund in 2001 include:

•Texaco Inc., $10,000: In 1996 Mr. Jackson threatened a boycott of the company if it did not settle a $520 million discrimination lawsuit and put together a program for minority employees. Texaco paid a $176 million out-of-court settlement.

•Ameritech, $15,000: Mr. Jackson opposed the merger in 1999 of Ameritech and SBC Communications until Ameritech agreed to sell part of its cellular business for $3.3 million to a partnership that includes Chester Davenport, a longtime Jackson friend;

•Apple Computer Inc., $10,000: In 1999, Mr. Jackson issued a threatening statement on his Rainbow/PUSH Web site to the company saying, "I am not fooled when Apple Computer uses the images of Jackie Robinson, Cesar Chavez and Miles Davis in its advertising campaigns, but fails to include a single African American or Latino on its board or the use of money managers or ad agencies. I am not fooled, and I will act."

The Citizenship Education Fund's purpose is "voter education," according to its tax return. Corporations say the money they give Mr. Jackson is part of its "diversity effort."

"We are not pressured; this is just the way we do business," said Cindy Neale, a spokeswoman for AT&T Corp. "That donation is part of AT&T's commitment to diversity."

A spokeswoman at Burger King Corp., which has had a relationship with Mr. Jackson since the 1970s, said its annual contribution "is a way to give back to those communities that support us."

"We rely on the organizations that we give money to use that funding in the best way possible," spokeswoman Kim Miller said.

SBC Communications Inc., though, specified that $150,000 of its donation go to "research on broadband and small minority businesses," spokesman Selim Bingol said.

But the money was not earmarked for such activities by Mr. Jackson's accountants and shows up on the tax return as a simple contribution.

Mr. Jackson's empire has incurred financial setbacks since January 2001, when it was revealed that Mr. Jackson fathered a child out of wedlock.

In a fund-raising letter last year to members of his International Trade Bureau, which companies can join for $500 annually, Mr. Jackson promised to arrange "meetings with the CEOs of major corporations and bring to the table contracting opportunities for our Trade Bureau members."

A former financial officer for Mr. Jackson said the empire was prospering as recently as mid-2001.

"The books were in fine shape when I left," said Billy Owens, former chief financial officer for the Citizenship Education Fund. He departed in July 2001 to become vice president of finance at Grambling State University.


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