Sharpton Says FBI Probe Harassment

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[The Big News]

The Rev. Al Sharpton held a press conference this morning and denounced federal agents for the latest probes against his closest associates, including 6:30 AM raids by the government to hand subpoenas.

He called the procedure "disrespectful and insensitive" and intended to create media frenzy. "To go to the homes of four single mothers at 6:30 in the morning---to swoop down on them in front of their children to serve a subpoena about stuff two or three years old, it was to create this, a media event," Sharpton said.

Sharpton further said the timing of the latest probe is retaliation against his preparation to enter the 2008 presidential race by endorsing a candidate; he says the government is also targeting him for the recent civil rights campaigns he has led against the justice department, including a protest in Washington, D.C.  Michael Hardy, Rev. Sharpton’s lawyer, agrees.

“It’s really no surprise that we march 50, 000 people around the justice department and their response is to begin an investigation and try to subpoena your employees,” Hardy told The Black Star News. “Rev. Sharpton has always been a target and this is a way to try to interrupt progress and to disrupt the movement.”

"Every major civil rights leader I could think of, from Martin Luther King Jr., to Marcus Garvey, to Adam Clayton Powell, has had to face this kind of harassment," Sharpton himself said. "I certainly am not in their league, but I certainly expect that that would become my lot when I came into movement as a teenager." Sharpton said during his many years of activism he does not remember a time when he's not been under investigation; he said the harassment is not foreign to civil rights leaders.

Jim Margolin, a spokesperson for the FBI in New York, said the government agency investigates allegations of criminal conduct without bias. “Our investigative activities are not politically motivated,” Margolin told The Black Star in a phone interview. “It’s without regard to people’s party affiliation, philosophy, religion, or anything else.”


According to media reports, FBI agents roused the homes of up to 10 close Sharpton associates Wednesday morning demanding Sharpton's financial records dating from 2001.

A Daily News report citing a person familiar with the probe stated that 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.

Margolin said the FBI cannot officially confirm that subpoenas were issued to Sharpton’s associates on Wednesday morning.

“Grand jury subpoenas are part of the grand jury process, which under federal law is secret, so I can’t divulge any information I have about grand jury proceedings or grand jury subpoenas.”

At press time, IRS officials were unavailable for comment.

The Daily News indicated that Sharpton's associates are set to testify before a federal grand jury the day after Christmas. The subpoenas also called for the individuals to provide the IRS with all financial records from Sharpton's 2004 campaign and a half-dozen Sharpton-related businesses, the paper reported.

You can view Al Sharpton's press conference in its entirety on CNN's Web site

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