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Special Event

Jesse Jackson Details Finances of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition

Aired March 8, 2001 - 11:10 a.m. ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now to Chicago. We are about to hear from Reverend Jesse Jackson. He's holding a news conference today talking about the finances of the organizations that he leads and the services that those groups provide.

The reason for news conference: the recent revelation that a woman who was working for one of Mr. Jackson organizations actually was a former lover of his, and that they had a child together.

Now there's some question about payments that might have been made to this woman and where that money might have come from. So this is supposed to be detailed information about the group's expenses.

As they go and file in and get ready for this news conference, we can tell you the "New York Times" is reporting that the reverend plans to amend the tax returns of the group, the Citizenship Education Fund. He says the changes will reflect the money paid to the staff member, the woman with whom he is said to have an affair.

It looks like the reverend's ready to begin. Let's go ahead and listen in.


I want to introduce a few people who will be a part of our question-and-answer deliberation.

Robert Albrich (ph), CPA from Galeman, Rossenbaum and Freeman (ph), who's held our CEF records from '93 to '98 right here from Washington, where the CEF was founded.

Henry Creal (ph). Henry Creal has held our books, CEF PUSH/Rainbow since 1997.

Thelma Butler (ph) or Thelma Butler & Company, Ltd., likewise has worked with our books.

And we have Hill Taylor (ph), LSCEN (ph), as technical information oversight -- technical oversight in our review.

And I want to thank the various members of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the body of African-American business leaders who have come together to open up doors in the LaSalle Street and Wall Street and access to technology and boards here in Chicago and around the country. As I looked at the range of questions and concerns, I'm delighted that you have such interest in what we do. I think to some of us, it's a good time to lay out in some measure what we do as an organization, who we are.

Reverend Willie Barrow and Dennis Rivera are co-chairs of the board of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. That's the Citizenship Education Fund, which is a 501c organization. And the PUSH for Excellence, which the 501c-3, spends much of its time motivating youth and getting scholarships to them. And PUSH moved office building in July of 1971.

In this Illinois religious corporation, we conduct services here every Saturday morning. There are meeting here. We do weddings and funerals and the full range of ministerial work in PUSH. PUSH is the landlord that the other organizations relate to.

Before I share my overview and then open up for Q&A, there have been so many questions raised particularly about the latest phase of our work about our business ventures. And what those walls in the Lasall Street do? And are they necessary? And how they function? And do companies, in fact, relate to us out of fear, out of regulation, out of opportunity, for growth? And are they in fact, being forced to contract with under, unqualified people to satisfy their fears?

And that's what we must address. And I want Jim Rogers (ph) to come forward, and then Jim Reynolds and Rudy Molder (ph) that they might introduce themselves to you. You may not know them as well as you ought to know them. But just as behind the red line, up in 1947, there was these ballplayers that no one could see. Jackie Robinson could play baseball before 1947. And Satchel Paige for Pittsburgh for '47. But they just could not see them. When we could play basketball, baseball before 1950, but people could not see them. And Lilly May Appalachian and Billy Fonte (ph) could sing, and Sammy Davis, before 1950, when they couldn't stay in the Parmer House downtown. But they could not be seen.

We have these business people. But so far, they cannot be seen behind these very high walls of economic apartheid. And it is our intent to bring down these walls and to build bridges.

We did not know how good baseball could be when everybody could play. We don't know how good business can be and what growth can be until everybody can play.

In part, we put together with our link and with our Hispanic allies, because together, we represent $1 trillion market. We represent unindustrialized markets, unutilized talent and untapped capital. We go abroad looking for markets where there's less money, more volatility and less stability. And right here, we have these unindustrialized markets at home.

We were very able to get President Clinton to take a tour and put forth legislation called New Markets Initiative" for Appellation and Englewood and East L.A. and Townridge (ph) Reservations, trying to greenline, redline the America that you might see. And America might see this vast body of untapped talent.

James Rogers first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Reverend Jackson. I'm pleased to be here today.

I'm here representing several organizations. I think, first, I'm past president of Able. And currently this year, I'm the chairman -- a co-chairman of the Lasalle Street Project and the chairman of next year's Wall Street Project, which will be the important avenues for African-Americans to have an opportunity to be involved in the financial services industry and the business industries around the world completely.

I come at this remote perspective that there really hasn't -- a lot hasn't changed in the last 55 or 60 years ago. My parents met at the University of Chicago Law School 55 years ago.

My father was a Tuskegee airman. He sacrificed and came, and got himself, walked and taught himself into the University of Chicago. Got there on a GI bill. Worked hard to be able to get the money to keep himself through -- keep himself in school.

And when he graduated from law school, they had no hope of coming downtown and working at a major law firm, becoming a partner in a major law firm. That was an impossibility in the '50s. They could never dream of being able to be the lawyer for the University of Chicago, or the major museums, or the major corporations throughout the city. That was something that couldn't happen. It wasn't realistic. It wasn't possible.

Then as the years went on, things didn't change. And it got to be the '70s. And my stepfather and mother were part of the beginnings of Operation Breadbasket. And they used to have meetings in my mother's, my stepfather's living room down the street, still working to change the kind of discrimination that was out there throughout the Chicago land area and throughout the country.

But what's been sort of the most disturbing to me is now as you get into the new century, the new millennium, things still haven't changed enough. You know, there's -- there's change. There is some change. We made some progress. But there's still a lot left to do.

Major law firms still don't have enough African-American partners. Major accounting firms downtown, several of them don't have any African-American partners still in the year 2001. The board rooms often, at most, have one person in the board room. And sometimes, I've been privileged to have a chance to be in those board rooms. And when you look around, I'll often be the only person of color there. And I keep thinking, We need to have more of us there to have that opportunity, more of us to be involved in senior management. And that's critically, critically important.

And I think sometimes as these years have gone on, I think not enough attention is being paid. And Rev. Jackson's the one who's really had the ability to get people to focus on these issues: the lack of opportunities in this century for us to be able to really participate fully and to be successful.

And so I feel like I'm representing the interests of my parents. My father ended up being a judge, John Rogers (ph); and my mother, Jewel Lawton-Todd (ph), ended up being a lawyer and able to be involved in a lot of community activities also.

And the last thing I'd like to say is that Rev. Jackson not only is there fighting to make sure that equal opportunity is there for all of us, but he's there for everyone every step of the way. He mentioned earlier he's there if there's a funeral, he's there if there is a wedding, he's there to be your counselor and consultant, for all the members of Operation PUSH. It doesn't matter what your socioeconomic background is, he's there for you. He returns your phone calls. He's there fighting for us.

And so that's why I'm here today, to really show my support for the belief in the leadership that Rev. Jackson has and how much I care for him personally and the difference that he's made in all of our lives.

I thank you very much.

JACKSON: Important for us to note that John graduating from Princeton was not enough to gain the same access as his other Princeton classmates.

Jim Reynolds.


I'm particularly happy to be here today to say a few words in support of my good friend, Rev. Jackson, inasmuch as he said so many encouraging and tremendous words on my behalf in the last few years.

I'll give you a little bit about my background and the background of my firm, and my association with Rev. Jackson and the Lasalle Street Project and trade bureau.

I own an investment banking firm here in Chicago. It's called Loop Capital Markets. We're the No. 1 underwriter of public securities of all underwriters in this city and state. We've been at business approximately three years.

My own personal background is that I've been in investment banking about 20 years now. I started trading bonds in 1982 with Smith Barney, with PaineWebber from '85 to '88, running their Chicago office, was top producer there; was asked to go to New York in 1988 to run national community distribution for PaineWebber. Turned that down. Ran that for Merrill Lynch for the last 10 years.

When I lift Merrill Lynch in 1997, I was the No. 1 producer in my division, proudly starting my own firm. As I looked out after starting my own firm in 1997, I had no contact with Rev. Jackson. But what I was acutely aware of was the fact that in starting your own firm in this business, it was very difficult. It was tremendously difficult because you were there and you were doing tremendous jobs for the big firms, but when you spun out on you own you had no access. Corporate treasurers, corporate CEOs, individuals that make those significant decisions did not know of you or care to return your phone calls.

It was in noticing the efforts of Rev. Jackson to open up the business, to open up opportunities and provide access that I decided to place a phone call to the reverend to work with him.

I've had a chance to know in my own firm we've grown from six people in 1997 to 43 today, and seven offices. And we've done about $150 billion, $200 billion of financings. A significant part of the access that we've enjoyed, and other firms like mine throughout the country, has only been made possible through the tireless efforts of Rev. Jackson.

In our relationships with him -- and I know many of my colleagues -- there has never been a hint, suggestion, or demand for a quid pro quo. Our conversations always revolve around one thing: Jim, what can I do for you? Jim, how can I help you? Jim, who do you want me to call? Tell me what we can do to help you and your friends grow your business.

So, today, it's a pleasure for me to be here just to tell you a little bit about that, my association with this great man and how he's impacted my business as well as many other businesses throughout this city and country.

Thank you very much.

JACKSON: Lastly, we bring on Rudy Molder. As we've sought to build a dynamic coalition between blacks, Hispanics and Asians, we initiated in the Wall Street Project with AOL Time Warner a reconfiguration of our Web page and a venture capital fair for blacks, Hispanics and Asians that will be unveiled in Atlanta this fall. And this coming Friday, we will purchase stocks in 60 corporations in Atlanta. Because if you look at those companies, for the most part, their boards of directors and management staff should not look like their consumer base, but they're honoring government rules of diversity. There's even some question about the status of Hispanics as ethnic minorities, which, of course, is absurd. And we stand with them as we broaden the base to open those doors.

I want Rudy Molder to come now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, Reverend.

My name, again, is Rudy Molder. I'm here in two capacities. One, as a businessman, as a Latino businessman that has, over the years, struggled for much of the same access that much of us here today have had obstacles with throughout the years. Through the efforts of people like Rev. Jackson and Rainbow/PUSH and a lot of my mother's prayers, a lot of blessings have come my way. And we've been able to build a company that now has over $1.2 billion in assets that we own and manage across the United States, and over 400 employees.

And it's a continual struggle, the access to CEOs, the access to capital markets. And as we've grown, we saw that the need to create an organization that did much of what Rainbow has done within the African-American community and what it's pushing to do also within the Latino community, was necessary. And we created Latino initiatives for the next century, LINK.

And LINK has come together -- and I'm here as chairman of LINK as well. And LINK has come together with Rainbow to address several issues, and that's creating economic empowerment for minorities. And the Rev. Jackson has been accessible, has been supportive, has pushed on issues. We came to him with issues that we're going to be addressing tomorrow, Reverend, in Atlanta. Things like acknowledging Latinos as minorities in the state of Georgia.

The reverend was the first African-American leader to step up to the plate and say, I will support that, that makes sense, we need to come together and create that access, in creating access to CEOs and addressing what's going to be addressed, as the reverend mentioned, with issues like investing into publicly traded companies, addressing board seats, addressing investments and procurement opportunities for minorities and holding corporations accountable.

It's an important issue for minorities to address as we reach a trillion-dollar buying power. And we're not selling to ourselves. And we need to be selling and we need to be empowered economically and create wealth and have that wealth creation happen for our people across the board.

And I believe, and it's been my experience with the reverend, that he is committed to that. And he has helped so many of us to advance and to get to that next ladder and to support us and to push on many endeavors that are very important to the minority community across the board.

Thank you.

Reverend, thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you, Rudy.

One of the issues that's been raised lately has been this issue of kids care, before I get into a bit more detail and then turn things over to the accountants and auditors.

For some years, we've seen this relationship between lower reading scores and high dropouts and the jail population; first-class jails and second-class schools.

KAGAN: We've been listening to the Rev. Jesse Jackson as he holds a news conference in Chicago. Also a number of his old friends going up and talking about what a good guy they think the reverend is. The purpose, though, of today's news conference is to talk about an amended tax return that the Rev. Jackson will be turning in. This is to better reflect the tax return of one of his nonprofit groups. His 1999 tax return for the Citizenship Education Fund did not contain information on a payment made to a former staffer, that of Karen Stanford. It was revealed recently that that woman is the woman who the Rev. Jackson had an affair with and also had a child with. The new tax statement will reflect that information as well as some other omissions that were left off of that tax return as well.



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