Al Sharpton’s National Action Network has released the schedule for its annual convention in New York City this week, and some of the panel titles may raise eyebrows.
On Thursday, attendees can attend a panel titled: “Corporate America: Shake Down or Shake Up.” A day later, there’s also an “economic development panel” called “Redistribution of Wealth: How Do We Get It & How Do We Keep It.”
The conference, which kicks off April 7, has its fair share of prestigious participants, including Ben Carson, Martin O’Malley, Arne Duncan and Gina McCarthy. On Thursday, Sharpton will share a stage with Jesse Jackson—an event that’s sure to be interesting, given that the two have had a relationship defined not only by collaboration but also competition and conflict.
But heavyweights notably absent from the speaking schedule include President Obama, who gave the keynote speech at last year’s convention; Mayor de Blasio, who helped kick the 2014 gathering off; Eric Holder, who spoke last year; and both Chirlane McCray, New York City’s first lady, and City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who participated in panels last year.
Sharpton has come under increased scrutiny this past year for his finances. In November, the New York Times reported that he owed as much as $4.5 million in current state and federal taxes, a sum Sharpton disputes. Several of Sharpton’s for-profit entities have been dissolved in at least one jurisdiction for failure to pay taxes, National Review reported earlier this year.
National Action Network ended 2013 with $1.33 million in debt, including $819,000 in tax liabilities. The nonprofit also owed Sharpton $328,881 in loans and paid him a $241,545 salary in 2013, the latest tax filings show.
Sharpton repeatedly failed to comply with tax and campaign filings after two suspicious fires destroyed his offices—once in 1997, when he was running for mayor, and once in 2003 when he was running for president.
It’s unclear how the recent controversy surrounding Sharpton has affected National Action Network’s convention.