Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sharpton under scrutiny

The FBI is taking a close look at the finances of the Rev. Al Sharpton, subpoenaing 10 aides and associates and demanding to see his financial records for the last six years.

The subpoenas are in support of two separate probes:

The FBI and IRS are investigating whether Sharpton improperly misstated the amount of money he raised during his 2004 White House run to illegally obtain federal matching funds, a source familiar with the probe said....

The feds are also looking into allegations of tax fraud, including whether Sharpton commingled funds from his nonprofit National Action Network with several of his for-profit ventures, the source said.

The first charge doesn't appear to be all that serious -- the major penalty would be forcing Sharpton to return some matching funds. But the second could be a biggie. The IRS has had a lot of its teeth pulled in recent years, but it can still deliver a nasty bite when aroused. But a lot will depend on whether the impropriety, if any, was deliberate or simply negligent.

Me, I consider Al to be an occasionally substantive blowhard whom I still haven't fully forgiven for his antics in the Tawana Brawley case -- though he has grown up a bit since then. It wouldn't surprise me much to find out he played fast and loose with his finances.

But he still deserves his day in court. If that ever arrives; given the complexity of things, I'd expect any charges to eventually be settled out of court unless Al pisses someone off.

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