The Rev. Al Sharpton sold his rights to his life story for a price of more than a half a million dollars— to a charity he owns.
The National Action Network (NAN)— the organization which Sharpton founded in 1991— agreed to fork over $531,000 to the left-wing preacher for Sharpton’s “life story rights for a 10-year period,” according to NAN’s tax filings obtained by the New York Post.
Sharpton also serves as president of NAN, which means he will be the one receiving the cash on behalf of the organization. But the document does not state when the organization would receive the money.
The deal would already amount to more than the $244,661 salary he received from the organization in 2017.
The left-wing activist said the idea came from two members of NAN’s board whom he did not identify, claiming they said the sale would create revenue for the organization after he plans to step down in another year.
“This way they make a profit from the beginning and all of the revenues,” Sharpton said.
But Sharpton never specified when the organization would receive the influx of cash.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Sharpton told the Post.
Sharpton added that he had other ways of increasing revenue for the non-profit, including several movie contracts and videos of himself with celebrities such as Michael Jackson.
“You’ve got real property here. You’re not talking about just me as an activist. These are non-related NAN things that are the saleable items,” he said.
Legal experts say the non-profit’s actions are concerning because the organization is conducting business with its president.
“When I see this kind of thing, it just makes me roll my eyes because there’s so much potential for funny business,” said Linda Sugin, a Fordham University Law School professor and associate dean.
Sugin added that the organization’s independence is questionable because of Sharpton’s “overall influence.”
“In this case, it’s really difficult because of his role in the organization and just because of his overall influence,” she said.
Another legal expert, former IRS official Marcus Owens, said the organization could be violating IRS rules on excess benefits and could be jeopardizing its tax-exempt status.
The National Action Network, which is based in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, raked in $6.3 million in 2017, and $5.8 million in 2018.
The cash-flush nonprofit also plays a considerable role in politics, especially after House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) praised Sharpton’s organization for “saving America” and credited it for the Democratic gains in the House of Representatives during the 2018 midterms.