Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio faced a holy dilemma Wednesday last night over whether to attend the Catholic Church’s Al Smith Dinner or the birthday bash of the man they really worship — Al Sharpton.Others thrilled to be there included New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
Cuomo was so eager to honor Sharpton on his 60th birthday that he ducked out in the middle of the Smith dinner at the Waldorf to greet The Rev and lavish praise him at the nearby Four Seasons restaurant.
“He has grown immensely over the years,” Cuomo told the crowd. “And he’s no longer just New York’s Al Sharpton. He’s the nation’s Rev. Sharpton — and the nation is better for it.”
De Blasio quickly changed out of his formal duds and dashed over to Sharpton’s party as soon as the New York Archdiocese’s Smith dinner ended, hailing Rev. Al as “a blessing for this city.”
“The more people criticize him, the more I want to hang out with him,” Hizzoner added.
The party also served as a fund-raiser for Sharpton's National Action Network. According to the program, sponsors included AT&T, Macy’s, Viacom/BET, and, of course, Forest City Ratner.
Sharpton, of course, has been a reliable--if not credible--ally on Atlantic Yards.
Capital New York wrote:
Kathy Wylde, president and C.E.O. of the Partnership for New York City, a business membership organization, attended the party and described Sharpton’s relationship with the city’s business leaders this way:.Well, the Daily News cited a transactional testimonial:
“I would say that on a personal level, people who get to know him, respect him, his intelligence, his honesty, his commitment, like to deal with him," she said. "Obviously, on a political level, he makes them very nervous because he’s somebody who has a passion for what he’s doing and he’s not transactional.”
Three-term former Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote: “You’re truly a unique American voice. A voice that has matured a great deal without mellowing one bit. And your best days are still ahead.”The Daily News also said it wasn't clear exactly how much Forest City and others spent, though Forest City was at the highest level:
Sharpton stayed quiet about Bloomberg’s decision to overturn term limits after he received a $110,000 grant from the mayor’s nonprofit, the Daily News reported at the time.
A thick, glossy program distributed to guests who attended the lavish Four Seasons party Wednesday night lays out the companies that ponied up. ATT and the developer Forest City Ratner paid for full page ads at what was called the “Activist Level.”Bloomberg and the Education Equality Project
GE Asset Management and Walmart saluted NAN with half-page ads at the “Preacher Level.”
The Humane Society, billionaire Ron Perelman’s holding company MacAndrews & Forbes, McDonald’s, DC37, Verizon and the Partnership for New York City got in at the lower “Track Suit Level” at the back of the book.
In an interview, Sharpton said he didn’t know what the different donor levels gave because fund-raising was outsourced to an event planner. He said “corporate checks take 90 days” to cash, so it was too early to say exactly who paid what, but he said the party brought in a projected $1 million.
Then-Daily News columnist Adam Lisberg reported in 2010:
Perhaps because, as the city was convulsed over term limits, Sharpton's National Action Network got a $110,000 grant from a brand-new nonprofit funded by Bloomberg.
In fact, on the very day Bloomberg announced he wanted to run again, the first $50,000 of the grant was transferred to the National Action Network.
The details are buried in filings from the Education Equality Project, a group started two months earlier by Sharpton and Bloomberg's school chancellor, Joel Klein, to close the gap between white and minority students.The National Action Network got $50,000 on Oct. 2, 2008, and the remaining $60,000 on Oct. 17, 2008.
The Education Equality Project's tax filing claims there was no conflict of interest in giving money to a group run by one of its own founders: "There is no relationship between the Organization and NAN."That may have been true but 2010, but it certainly was not true in 2008. The 6/11/08 press release from the New York City Department of Education announcing the Education Equality Project tells people to go to Sharpton's National Action Network for more information and lists as one contact Sharpton spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger.