The “Rev.” Al Sharpton has officially reached a point where you could tell me virtually anything about him, and no matter how made up it is, I’d be inclined to believe you.
Sharpton thinks that the royal wedding between the United Kingdom’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is somehow related to the decline of “white male supremacy”? Oh, wait, that one actually happened.
Sharpton has the unmitigated gall to make a nationally beloved woman’s death all about himself? Actually, that one’s totally believable and very much true.
The latest story involving Sharpton may be the most absurd of them all, however.
The man who’s made a living out of making a national spectacle of himself is turning his life story into a money-maker by itself — by selling the rights to it to the nonprofit he founded. (Or at least leasing them.)
According to tax filings obtained by the New York Post, Sharpton has decided to sell his “life story rights for a 10-year period” to the National Action Network.
The kicker here is that the National Action Network is Sharpton’s own creation. He is the president of NAN and it’s almost impossible to go to its website and not see Sharpton’s face splashed across virtually every image.
Now, far be it for me to suggest that an organization allegedly trying to better society should inherently be allowed to utilize the life story of one of its founders, but at the very least, they should receive a steep discount in such an arrangement.
Not here. Sharpton has reportedly sold his life story to NAN for a hefty sum of $531,000. That amounts to a tidy $53,100 for each year NAN can use Sharpton’s life story. That seems like an extra $53,100 a year that NAN could have spent on any of its missions, including criminal justice reform, voting rights and youth leadership.
As the Post notes, Sharpton was already paid by NAN — by virtue of being the organization’s founder and president — a generous $244,661 in 2017.
Sharpton and NAN both apparently feel that those movie rights can be flipped for a profit to Hollywood, though neither could tell the Post if there were any deals in the pipeline.
According to what Sharpton told the Post, the veteran huckster wants to create a revenue source for NAN after he plans to step down in a year.
“This way they make a profit from the beginning and all of the revenues,” Sharpton told the Post.
Sharpton also made the eyebrow-raising claims that he already has two contracts for movies, with a third one being worked on. One of the movies is allegedly already in development. Of note, Sharpton didn’t provide any additional details to the Post.
Even shadier, Sharpton’s organization told the Post that a donor put up the money to purchase the Sharpton film rights, but did not name the donor.
Linda Sugin, a Fordham University Law School professor and associate dean, told the Post about just how shady this kind of business could be.
“When I see this kind of thing, it just makes me roll my eyes because there’s so much potential for funny business,” Sugin said.
Marcus Owens, a former IRS official and a partner with the Loeb & Loeb law firm in Washington, told the Post that NAN could lose its tax-exempt status because it was doing business with its own president. There are strict IRS rules in place regarding a nonprofit excess benefits to its key members.
But even if the whole thing is strictly within the rules of the IRS, for a man to take a half-million dollars from a nonprofit he founded is morally criminal.
This is all to say that, much like most things that spew out of Sharpton’s mouth, there’s a good chance that not enough thought was put into this.
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