Just days after revelations that the Rev. Al Sharpton served as an FBI mob informant in the 1980s, President Obama on Friday will deliver the keynote address at the civil rights leader’s annual conference.
The president will address the National Action Network convention in New York City, and the White House said Wednesday that recent news about Mr. Sharpton’s role in providing the federal government with key information about top organized crime families hasn’t caused them to rethink Mr. Obama’s involvement.
“Reverend Sharpton and the National Action Network have made significant contributions to civil rights efforts, and the president looks forward to appearing at the conference,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday aboard Air Force One.
Mr. Obama is traveling to Texas to attend memorial services for the victims of last week’s shooting at Ford Hood. Later in the day, he’ll address a Democratic party fundraiser.
The president previously has appeared at Mr. Sharpton’s yearly gathering, though the event will garner extra attention this year after information surfaced about the civil rights advocate and MSNBC talk show host’s cooperation with the federal government.
Mr. Sharpton reportedly recorded conversations with top figures in the mafia in the 1980s.
At a news conference Tuesday, he defended his actions.
“I did what was right. I did what I was always raised in the values of a praying mother to do,” Mr. Sharpton said. “And I did what I tell kids every day all over this country what they should do, and that is deal with getting guns and crime out of their community and cooperating with the law.”