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Hillary Paid Senator $200K For Endorsement

From South Carolina’s The State:

Jackson defends his endorsement of Hillary Clinton

Fri, Feb. 16, 2007

Days before U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton makes her first visit to South Carolina as a presidential candidate, one of her top supporters here faces accusations that his support for her is tied to a contract his firm landed with Clinton’s campaign.

State Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, said such accusations are offensive and smack of racism.

When asked Tuesday by a reporter, Jackson said he was backing Clinton, D-N.Y. A day later, a national political Web site reported Jackson’s consulting firm, Sunrise Enterprises, had agreed to work for Clinton for $10,000 a month.

That story was picked up by The New York Post and on cable television. The Post story questioned whether “Jackson’s endorsement was bought by a higher bidder.”

That, Jackson said, was a low blow.

“I’m somewhat offended in the sense that … the national media thinks that an African-American in my position cannot support a candidate without being paid off,” Jackson said. “Second, they seem to have a hard time believing that in South Carolina there could be a legitimate African-American public relations firm that’s not a hustler.”

The timing of how the situation has evolved is unfortunate, Jackson said. He had not expected to announce his endorsement of Clinton’s campaign but answered honestly when asked Tuesday. The next day, details of the work relationship were leaked to The National Journal’s Hotline, a widely read political Web site.

Jackson said his endorsement, and his company, were courted by almost all the Democratic candidates, including U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, an S.C. native whom Jackson backed — and worked for — in 2004.

He said some candidates offered more money than Clinton, others less, for his firm’s services.

Ultimately, he said, he decided to throw his personal support behind Clinton, a decision he said was independent of Sunrise’s relationship with the candidate.

“If there was no contract, I’d still endorse Clinton,” Jackson said. “This was having thought about the process, who is best able to lead and, quite honestly, which Democrat I think will be strongest come November. It’s not about the contract.”

Sunrise Enterprises, Jackson said, has been in business since 1986 and has seven employees with offices in the Vista and in Charleston. It does advertising, public relations and other consulting. Jackson said he hasn’t drawn a salary from the company for years, although the firm does lease a car for him to drive.

Jackson also is pastor of Bible Way Church of Atlas Road, one of the state’s largest black congregations, boasting 9,000 members last year

Jackson said Clinton’s campaign was making “a business deal” when it hired Sunrise Enterprises. “I’ve never had my integrity questioned,” he said…

Well, of course it’s racism, Mr. Jackson. Ms. Clinton certainly wouldn’t have given you $200,000 to endorse her if you were white.

Here is what Mr. Jackson said about the highest bidder for his services his favorite candidate in 2004:

Senator Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, who is also the pastor of Bible Way Church of Atlas Road, says that he "followed his heart" by advising his congregation he was voting for John Edwards. He said many Atlas Road members were searching for a candidate to vote for. Jackson says his intent was to let them know how he voted, not tell them to vote. "It would have been easier to go with (John) Kerry," Jackson told reporters, but Edwards stressed unifying America across economic lines to bring rich and poor together. "This is my guy, win or lose," says Jackson, who talked to Edwards by phone Tuesday morning. Whether he wins or loses in South Carolina, Edwards promises to come back to visit the Atlas Road congregation, Jackson says.

Of course South Carolina was the only primary Mr. Edwards won. So this was probably a sound investment for Ms. Clinton.

Anyway, it’s probably cheaper in the long run to buy votes on wholesale rather than retail. Though Ms. Clinton will undoubtedly do both.

But you never know. Mr. Jackson might be the next Barack Obama. Who, lest we forget, got his start as a vote hustler for Bill Clinton in Chicago.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, February 16th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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