MSNBC Host Sharpton Reportedly Owes Minority Trade Group $28K in Back Rent for D.C. Office Space

If  former Baptist minister turned former presidential candidate turned Fox News Channel host Mike Huckabee ran a non-profit organization that was a) deeply in debt b) owed Uncle Sam years in back taxes and c) was in dispute with a conservative trade organization in D.C. over unpaid rent, it's hard to imagine Huck's competitors at MSNBC wouldn't gleefully note those financial woes from time to time.

Fox News, however, will most certainly restrain their schadenfreude at the latest news regarding MSNBC's resident Baptist minister turned presidential candidate turned bloviating host. Today's Washington Post reports that the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) is upset with Sharpton's National Action Network (NAN) for failing to pay months of back rent as well as failing to tender payment for rented office furniture:


 

The arrangement began early last year, when COMTO vacated its office for a new space across the street; Cunningham said she put feelers out in the nonprofit community looking for someone to move in for the remaining 18 months on the lease on the original spot at 818 18th St. NW and was glad to make contact with NAN, which has organized protests and boycotts on a variety of civil rights issues.

“We were pleased that another group of similar status was coming in,” said COMTO’s board Chairman Robert Henry Prince Jr. “We didn’t know they wouldn’t be honoring their rental agreement.”

After a few months of prompt payments, NAN fell behind, Cunningham says. Lawyers got involved, and Cunningham says she wrote “friendly” letters to Sharpton and every NAN board member — to no avail.

Rachel Noerdlinger, a rep for Sharpton and NAN, denied the group was in arrears — and ­e-mailed us a copy of a check the group has written out to COMTO for $16,950, dated Tuesday. NAN has signed a new lease with the building to continue in that space; the check and a $10,550 security deposit should cover everything for COMTO, she said.

But Cunningham told us that if the check arrives, it won’t cover a total that includes late fees — nor the cost of office furniture that NAN leased and intends to buy from her group. Asked for comment, Noerdlinger said her group disagrees with COMTO’s numbers.

In December 2011, the New York Post reported that Sharpton owed Uncle Sam personal income tax and that his National Action Network organization was deeply in debt,  behind in taxes, and had back-rent payment issues in other locations (emphases mine):

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s nonprofit paid him nearly $242,000 — even as it carried $1.6 million in debt, according to documents obtained by The Post.

In all, the controversial activist and his empire, including the National Action Network and two for-profit companies, were $5.3 million in the red, public records show.

Most of NAN’s money woes stemmed from more than $880,000 in unpaid federal payroll taxes, interest and penalties. It also paid more than $100,000 to settle two lawsuits, byproducts of the unpaid bills.

And it still owed $206,252 in loans to Sharpton’s for-profit Bo-Spanky Consulting Inc. and Sharpton Media LLC, the records show.

Sharpton drew a $241,732 salary and perks that included first-class or charter air travel, tax filings show. He owes the IRS $2.6 million in income tax, and nearly $900,000 in state tax.

The defunct Rev-Al Communications Inc. owes the state almost $176,000, and Bo-Spanky is $3,500 behind on state-tax liens.

Sharpton has said he is on a repayment plan with state and federal-tax authorities.

NAN last year took in more than $3 million in donations, which allowed it to chip away at its tax burden. This year, its board of directors voted to resolve the tax issues and paid all back state taxes, said Executive Director Tamika Mallory.

The civil-rights group is also addressing the $883,503 it owes in federal payroll taxes, she added.

And it is close to finished repaying the Peabody Hotel in Memphis $106,981 owed since 2008, when NAN skipped out on its bill after its annual convention, according to its 2010 audited financial statements.

Plus, it paid $5,500 to a Phoenix developer to settle a legal dispute over the rental of chapter offices.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters