Not everyone gets to drop in at the presidential residence for a chat with President Barack Obama, but the White House welcome mat most definitely has been out for one frequent visitor — the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Since 2009, Sharpton has visited the White House no fewer than 61 times, reports the National Review
, citing the White House visitor log, which "illustrates the extraordinary access Sharpton has had to the president and his top advisers."
Many of the visits were for official events, such as the Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement and the jobs bill signing in 2010.
However, many events were of a more personal nature, such as the 2011 Super Bowl Party thrown by the Obamas, movie screenings and the president's birthday party in 2011, which would indicate "a close personal relationship between Sharpton and the first family," National Review said.
The invitations came despite Sharpton's spotty record on paying his taxes. His organization, the National Action Network
(NAN), is listed as being $1.33 million in debt and owes the IRS around $819,000, according to its 2013 tax filing, while paying Sharpton a $241,545 salary, National Review reports.
When Sharpton has visited the White House and Obama on matters involving job creation, immigration, education and voting rights, the administration has publicized the meetings, but in 17 of those meetings, there is no record of what was discussed.
Sharpton, who hosts his own show on MSNBC, has bragged publicly that he was involved in the selection of New York federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch, the nominee to replace Attorney General Eric Holder, and has visited her office, the Daily Caller
Sharpton's connection with Obama comes through his contact with top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and her White House public relations office, the National Review reports, noting that he has met personally with Jarrett four times and often meets with members of her staff.
During the Ferguson, Missouri, riots, Sharpton was often texting and speaking with Jarrett while she was vacationing with the Obamas on Martha's Vineyard, Politico
Prior to the Obama administration, Sharpton was considered a "pariah" and race agitator by White House occupants, Politico reports.
But today, his sometimes-colleague the Rev. Jesse Jackson told Politico, "He’s arrived at the level he always wanted to arrive at, which is gratifying. He’s the man who’s the liaison to the White House. He’s the one who’s talking to the Justice Department.”
Politico described Sharpton as Obama's "go-to man on race."
Sharpton told Politico that Obama ”realized I wasn’t as irrational or as crazy as people thought," and the NAN website boasts that Obama has referred to Sharpton
as "the voice of the voiceless and a champion for the downtrodden."
A White House official told Politico, “There’s a trust factor with The Rev from the Oval Office on down. He gets it, and he’s got credibility in the community that nobody else has got. There’s really no one else out there who does what he does.”
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