The New York Times checked up today on the financial situation of the Reverend Al Sharpton, New York and America's most public private citizen. The setup is about how Sharpton has gone from outsider to insider, track suits to tailored suits, "from the streets to the suites," in his words, etc. Then we learn—well, "learn" isn't exactly the right word, given how well-documented all of Sharpton's aspects have been through the years.
But in case you were wondering how "grifter" was doing relative to "inspiration" or "pundit" or "bully" or "moral authority" or "buffoon" or "orator" or "TV personality" among the ever-evolving roster of multitudes that Sharpton contains:
Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.
With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury's inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as "abusive," or "potentially criminal" if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.
Al Sharpton is a respected political figure and a toxic demagogue and a hopeless serial deadbeat. His National Action Network is a mess. He will almost certainly be front and center articulating the suffering of America's black underclass if the Ferguson grand jury, as expected, decides the shooting of Michael Brown was acceptable law enforcement. He will travel to and from making those morally and sociologically valid remarks in luxury, probably unpaid-for luxury.
On it goes. The section titles in the Times article are, in order, "Often Strident Language," "A Move Into the Mainstream," and "Sued by His Landlord."
The desire to wrap it all up—to explain how the ongoing happening that is Al Sharpton has happened—is so strong, the Times found itself wandering into a strange fog of implication in the middle of its solid numbers:
But the recent troubles of Rachel Noerdlinger, Mr. Sharpton's closest aide for many years and more recently a top official in the de Blasio administration, served as a reminder of Mr. Sharpton's fraught history and how easily it can spill over into the corridors of power in which he now travels.
Ms. Noerdlinger took a leave of absence from her post on Monday, after the arrest of her teenage son on trespassing charges. The decision capped weeks of scrutiny after news accounts revealed that she had failed to disclose a live-in boyfriend with an extensive criminal record on a background questionnaire when she became the top adviser to Mr. de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray. The omission was unrelated to Mr. Sharpton, but it is the kind of paperwork oversight that has been a trademark of his nonprofit, where Ms. Noerdlinger built her career.
"[U]nrelated to Mr. Sharpton, but...." Better to go with Sharpton's account of himself, as supplied to the Times:
"You can say I'm not a great administrator," he said. "You can't say that I'm not committed."
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