Tags: limbaugh | gingrich | nfl

Flaherty: Gingrich Must Cut Ties with Sharpton

Tuesday, 27 Oct 2009 10:09 PM

National Legal and Policy Center President Peter Flaherty tells Newsmax that his group is calling on corporations to end their support of Al Sharpton's organization in response to his role in the Rush Limbaugh-National Football League controversy.

Flaherty is also urging former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to cut his ties with Sharpton, a Baptist minister and civil rights activist whom Flaherty calls a "despicable figure" responsible for racial "antagonism" in the U.S.

See Video: National Legal and Policy Center President Peter Flaherty: Gingrich must sever his ties with Al Sharpton - Click Here Now

After Limbaugh announced on Oct. 6 that he was part of a group seeking to buy the St. Louis Rams football team, Sharpton said the radio talk show host's track record on race should exclude him from ownership. He sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell claiming Limbaugh was divisive and "anti-NFL" in some of his comments.

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On Oct. 14, Limbaugh was dropped from the group seeking to buy the Rams.

Newsmax.TV's Kathleen Walter asked Flaherty about the campaign to cut corporate funding of Sharpton's National Action Network.

"Most people are familiar with Al Sharpton, but what's less known is that his organization, the National Action Network, is bankrolled by corporate America," said Flaherty, whose organization promotes ethics in public life.

"Those include companies that we patronize all the time, like Anheuser-Busch, Wal-Mart, Colgate-Palmolive.

"We are asking these companies to end their support for Sharpton. We feel that it's inappropriate for these businesses to be supporting someone who is engaged in the promotion of hate crimes over the years and who has sought to increase antagonism between whites and blacks in this country."

Walter asked how companies have been responding.

"We've had a variety of responses. People have been e-mailing and calling the companies," Flaherty said.

"Both PepsiCo and Wal-Mart have been completely unapologetic about their support for Sharpton. We find that very disappointing and very distressing. Colgate-Palmolive denies they are supporting Sharpton, although we believe that they are.

"Some of the other companies like Home Depot have been far more defensive in their responses. But so far none of them have said that they are going to cut them off.

"These companies claim they are supporting diversity by bankrolling the National Action Network. They could not have foreseen that Sharpton would take on such a popular and high-profile personality like Rush Limbaugh.

"I think they are continuing to support Sharpton at their own risk. Rush has a lot more listeners and followers than Sharpton does. That's for sure."

Walter referred to a report that Rev. Sharpton laughed at Limbaugh, saying the talk show host believed the effort to keep him from becoming an NFL owner was a conspiracy involving President Obama, liberal financier George Soros, and Sharpton himself.

"I don't know if there was a conspiracy, but I think that the establishment just did not like the idea of a conservative being part of the club. And it's most unfortunate," Flaherty responded.

"Rush Limbaugh should have the right to buy an NFL team, like any other person. There are other owners who are involved in politics. Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, serves in the Obama administration. He's our ambassador to Ireland...

"NFL teams have involved themselves in politics before. I think Rush planned to be a passive owner anyway. But there's certainly a double standard here."

Asked for his reaction to the news that Limbaugh had been dropped from the group seeking to buy the Rams, Flaherty said:

"It seemed to be a victory for Sharpton, and if the NFL wants to align itself with such a despicable figure, I think they do so at their own risk.

"I think this was an attack on conservatism in general. Rush is just the most visible representative of it. It's political correctness run amok. It shows the NFL would rather do the politically expedient thing than do the right thing.

"I think it's most regrettable because professional football is one institution in our society that bridged the racial gap long before many others did."

Sharpton and Gingrich have been appearing together around the country promoting the Education Equality Project, and the National Legal and Policy Center has been calling on Gingrich to end that relationship.

"We've argued for years that it's inappropriate for liberal politicians to associate with Sharpton. We believe the same thing is true for Newt Gingrich," Flaherty explained.

"Regardless of the merits of education reform, which they have supposedly teamed up on, it is simply inappropriate for a legitimate thinker like Gingrich to have this relationship with someone like Sharpton, who has promoted fakery of hate crimes against blacks and has sought to antagonize racial relations in this country.

"Newt has made a bad decision, and we believe he should end his relationship with Sharpton."

See Video: National Legal and Policy Center President Peter Flaherty: Gingrich must sever his ties with Al Sharpton - Click Here Now

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