UPDATE: thanks to Ken Libby, we now know that both the Broad Foundation ($500K) and the Gates Foundation ($100K) gave substantial funds to EEP in 2009. As of 2011, however, the organization no longer appears to exists.
Today, in the Daily News, Adam Lisberg reports that Mayor Bloomberg gave $110,000 to Al Sharpton in 2008, apparently to gain his assent for overturning term limits, money that was laundered through the Education Equity Project, Joel Klein’s vanity non-profit that supposedly works for education reform.
This revelation comes on top of the earlier finding that Sharpton received a secret contribution of $500,000 from a hedge fund to join EEP in the first place, funds that were washed through Education Reform Now, a pro-charter lobbying group, to help him avoid federal indictment for tax fraud. Below is a timeline of events:
December 2007: As many as ten of Sharpton’s associates receive grand jury subpoenas as the IRS is probing whether Sharpton or his organization, National Action Network (NAN), committed tax crimes and/or violations related to his 2004 presidential campaign.
March 25, 2008: Eva Moskowitz writes an email to Klein:“As you know I met with Sharpton. Had a great meeting. Am sure you know Charlie King is working with who I have known for years. He was enthusiastic. Just was worried that Mayor and you were not on board. Was kind of surprised by this concern. Wonder if you can call him.”
Joel Klein responds, “I’m going to
for him and have put together a panel for MLK day – I will speak to him. I think by on board he’s not talking policy….” [What then? finances?] Memphis
April 4, 2008: Klein appears at the Sharpton NAN event in
. According to account written by Joe Williams on Democrats for Education Reform blog, entitled MLK, Ed Reform Sharpton, Shifting Winds?: “….It will be particularly interesting to see whether Rev. Sharpton can match his rhetoric with action… Sharpton...talked about how the education problem is so dire that we can no longer honor past alliances which existed to protect the status quo in education. (He didn't elaborate, but I assume he was talking about partnerships and $$$ between old civil rights groups and big labor, specifically teachers unions. Why did I assume that? He made the dots pretty easy to connect.)" Memphis
April 10, 2008: Joel Klein sends an email to Eva Moskowitz, asking, “Did I send you article re
w Sharptons comment about new alliances.” She replies, “Yes thanks. Thought it was amazing.” Memphis
May 9, 2008: The AP reports that Sharpton is a subject of federal investigation and that his organization owes nearly $1.5 million in overdue taxes and penalties. It is also revealed that over the course of the past year, Sharpton's lawyers have been negotiating with the feds over the size of his debt, which include $365,558 in NYC income tax and $931,397 in unpaid federal income tax. His for-profit company, Rev. Al Communications, owes the state another $175,962 in delinquent taxes.
early June 2008: Al Sharpton and Joel Klein announce they will form the Education Equality Project.
June 4, 2008: According to an article in the NY Times, Bloomberg and his advisers are exploring overturning term limits so he can run for a third term.
June 11, 2008: Education Equality Project, co-chaired by Joel Klein and Al Sharpton, is launched at a DC press conference.
Sharpton says: "There have been a lot of old alliances being protected, and the children are not being protected," he said. "And if we're going to move forward, we're going to have to be able to have new alliances here — that might mean some old relationships with teachers unions, principals unions and all are going to be a little troubled.”
June 12, 2008: There is much speculation on our list serv and elsewhere about who is funding this effort. On our blog at “Unholy alliance: Al Sharpton and Joel Klein” we speculate that it is being supported by Gates and/or Broad Foundations. The next day, David Cantor, then-head of the DOE press office, emails our NYC education list serv that “No Gates or Broad money is going to this initiative. Zero.”
June 13, 2008: We speculate that perhaps Bloomberg money is backing EEP and add another posting, Who is funding the Education Equity project? Later that day, David Cantor emails me: “Leonie: The project is being funded anonymously. No public money will be spent. The mayor is not funding the project.”
June 15, 2008: I post Cantor’s email on our blog at The mystery continues: who is funding the Klein/Sharpton operation? and add: “One would think that given the kind of public campaign that these men say they are embarking upon, including staging "events at both political conventions” and attempting to influence the position of the next President, they should be obligated to reveal their source of financing" Silly me.
June 15, 2008: I finally pick up on the news about how Sharpton owes the IRS more than $1 million in taxes, and write on the blog: “Which further begs the question – is someone contributing to Sharpton's operations to persuade him to ally himself with Joel Klein, and if so, who is it? Apparently, the US Attorney's Office in
Brooklyn is conducting a grand-jury investigation of his organization's finances, as is Attorney General Cuomo. Hopefully we'll find out someday. More good timing on the part of Joel Klein, who certainly knows how to pick his friends. But I guess beggars can't be choosers.”
June 19, 2008: According to the Post, the feds broaden their investigation, and issue "a flurry of subpoenas" to Sharpton’s corporate donors.
June 20, 2008: Sharpton hires former Brooklyn US Attorney Zachary Carter to represent him.
June 2008: Sometime this month, Sharpton's organization receives a $500,000 donation from former Chancellor Harold Levy’s hedge fund, Plainfield Asset Management, passed through Joe Williams’ pro-charter group Education Reform Now. None of this is revealed, however, until almost a year later, in Juan Gonzalez’ column.
July 20, 2008: Al Sharpton pays a down payment of more than $1 million in tax debt to the IRS.
July 22, 2008: The Feds agree to drop criminal charges against Sharpton, as he has agreed to pay millions of dollars in back taxes and penalties. About a dozen of his aides who had been served with federal subpoenas will no longer be required to testify. The unpaid taxes which he has agreed to repay are believed to total anywhere between $2 million and $9 million.
August 2008: Bloomberg considers running for a third term, which will necessitate overturning term limits.
On or about Sept 20, 2008: While "testing the waters" on term limits, Bloomberg "meets personally with Sharpton.
Sometime during Sept. 2008 (?): Bloomberg gives $250,000 grant to EEP. According to the News, this is one of only two contributions that EEP received in 2008, totaling $500,000.
Sept. 30, 2008: It is reported that Bloomberg has definitely decided to overturn term limits, ignoring the results of two referenda, so he can run for a third time. The NY Times runs an editorial supporting his decision, saying “If the voters don’t like the result, they can register their views at the polls,” meaning they can choose not to vote for Bloomberg.
October 2, 2008: Bloomberg formally announces he will run for third term. The same day, National Action Network gets $50,000 from EEP.
October 8, 2008: Sharpton tells the New York Times, "I'm leaning toward those who advocate in favor of making changes in the law through a referendum. But I haven’t come to any final determination yet."
October 12, 2008: Charlie King, Sharpton’s chief of staff tells the New York Post re term limits "There are meritorious arguments on both sides of this issue, and we are taking great pains to weigh each argument."
October 17, 2008: The National Action Network receives another $60,000 payment from EEP. The same day, the NY Times reveals that the mayor and his top aides have asked leaders of community and arts organizations which have received contributions from Bloomberg and/or city funding to testify on behalf of overturning term limits during the City Council hearings.
At least 11 Doe Fund employees, testified in favor of the mayor’s plan, without identifying their employer, describing themselves only as neighborhood residents. The DOE Fund also shipped homeless men to the hearings in support. It is later revealed that just weeks after the hearings, Bloomberg gave at least $5 million to the DOE Fund, and a year later, less than 48 hours before he was sworn in for a third term, another $5 million.
October 22, 2008: the NY Times runs an editorial supporting the city Council overturning term limits, despite the fact that voters voted twice to uphold the limits: “... We agree with the mayor that the Council is best positioned to quickly settle the matter. It would be technically difficult and perhaps legally problematic to organize a meaningful citywide referendum before the 2009 elections." (Just a few months later, the Times excoriates Hugo Chavez of
for proposing that voters be allowed to decide term limits through a referendum, an opportunity that NYC voters never received.) Venezuela
October 23, 2008: The City Council votes to overturn term limits 29-22.
December 8, 2008: Bloomberg hires Bradley Tusk, formerly top operative and Deputy Gov. to Rod. Blagojevich, as his campaign manager. Over the course of the year Bloomberg gives $1.3 million to the Independence Party. Of that, $750,000 was allegedly pocketed by
Queens GOP operative John Haggerty.
March 31, 2009: Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News breaks the story of the $500,000 contribution to Sharpton from Harold Levy's hedge fund, which was first laundered through Joe Williams’ pro-charter organization Education Reform Now. David Cantor tells Juan that up to that point, Klein has raised more than $1.6 million for EEP. [more than $1 million in Jan-March? From whom?]
April 1, 2009: Bloomberg appears at Sharpton’s annual
NAN conference, saying he is a “Sharpton fan.” Gov. Paterson, Sec. Duncan and Joel Klein also participate in the event.
May 7, 2009: Bloomberg, Sharpton and Gingrich meet with Duncan and Obama and announce that education reforms are the “civil rights issue of the 21st century.” The same day, the White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says the president “does not intend to make any political endorsement in the
mayor’s race.” (Obama does later make very low-key endorsement of Bill Thompson, but never campaigns on his behalf.) New York City
November 4, 2009: Bloomberg wins a third term by an unexpectedly narrow margin of 5 percent; after spending a record $110 million of his personal fortune on his campaign, more than all other donations for all NY state elected officials combined.
And that's only the campaign spending that is officially reported!