Al Sharpton found a generous buyer for the rights to his own life story. His charity, The National Action Network (NAN), the organization which Sharpton founded in 1991 and serves as president – committed to paying him a whopping $531,000 for the “life story rights for a 10-year period.”, according to NAN’s tax filings obtained by the New York Post.
The deal would add to the $244,661 salary Sharpton has already received from the organization in 2017, although the document does not state when the organization would receive the money.
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.
‘Potential for Funny Business’, from The Epoch Times:
Legal experts cited by The Post said that for a nonprofit to do deals with its president is potentially treacherous territory. If not done carefully, it could threaten a charity’s tax-exempt status.
Marcus Owens, a former IRS official and a partner with the Loeb & Loeb law firm in Washington told The Post that if a charity pays too much for assets of the type it paid to Sharpton, it could violate tax rules regarding excess benefits given to a nonprofit’s key officials.
Sharpton told The Post that the value of the assets that were part of the transaction was formally appraised, while tax filings showed that the board’s “executive committee independently approved” the deal.
But Linda Sugin, a Fordham University Law School professor and associate dean, questioned the impartiality of the decision.
“In this case, it’s really difficult because of his role in the organization and just because of his overall influence,” Sugin said.
“When I see this kind of thing, it just makes me roll my eyes because there’s so much potential for funny business,” she added.
A less controversial way for NAN to benefit from the sale of Sharpton’s story rights would have been for him to sell the rights to a production company and donate part of the proceeds.