|Sharpton sees the US investigation as retaliation.|
NEW YORK - The Rev. Al Sharpton angrily denounced federal authorities yesterday for investigating him and his civil rights organization, suggesting that the Justice Department was retaliating against him for his civil rights advocacy.
"I have probably been under every investigation known to man, and I can't remember a time that I've not been under investigation," Sharpton said at the Harlem headquarters of his civil rights organization. "The issues raised are issues that we've learned over and over again, particularly when we are approaching an election season."
The FBI and the IRS are investigating Sharpton for tax fraud and possible campaign finance violations stemming from his 2004 presidential bid, according to a person familiar with the investigation. They also are investigating the National Action Network and several businesses he runs.
A Brooklyn grand jury is scheduled to begin hearing evidence in the case at the end of the month.
Sharpton said he thought the timing of the investigation was suspicious, occurring just weeks after he led a march on the Justice Department to demand federal intervention in the "Jena Six" case in Louisiana and better enforcement of hate crimes.
The charges against the six black students accused of attacking a white student in Jena, La., led to the September demonstration by Sharpton and other activists, who alleged local authorities were prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites.
Sharpton and his lawyer said between eight and 10 Sharpton associates, employees, and former employees received subpoenas asking them to produce documents related to Sharpton's and his organization's finances.