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Sharpton Debts Top $485,000, FEC Says

Monday, February 23, 2004; Page A07

Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton, who has billed his campaign for hotel stays of more than $1,000 a night, has campaign debts totaling $485,696, including unpaid staff salaries dating to last May, finance reports show.

As of Jan. 31, Sharpton's campaign had just $1,039 in the bank, according to Federal Election Commission reports.





Among those to whom he owes money is Frank Watkins, his former campaign manager. The report said Watkins had not been paid salary and expenses from last May to September, for a total of $55,000.

In addition, Sharpton owes $38,000 to Kevin Gray, who ran his South Carolina campaign

"There was no focus and discipline as it relates to raising money, and that's not the way you run a campaign," Gray told the Associated Press.

Sharpton's current manager, Charles Halloran, said, "I have no current plans to pay Kevin Gray. . . . I can't see any value for what he was allegedly doing over there in South Carolina."

The Sharpton campaign is carrying a $150,000 loan owed to the Amalgamated Bank in New York.

Sharpton himself is on the list of those waiting to get paid. The report lists $81,780 owed Sharpton for "Reimbursement Services Rendered," "AMEX Reimbursement" and "Reimbursement Expense." Sharpton also loaned his campaign $20,000.

Halloran, who is owed $52,500 by the campaign, said Sharpton's bid for the Democratic nomination will continue "as long as Reverend Sharpton is standing and speaking." Despite running in the red, Halloran said, "it's a campaign built on faith and trust and commitment."

Halloran defended the use of "nice hotels," saying that they were important for holding fundraising events and for security reasons. In the future, he said, Sharpton will be reimbursed $200 a night for hotel stays and will loan the campaign the rest. Sharpton will not be paid back until all other bills are paid, Halloran said.

-- Thomas B. Edsall


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