Judicial Watch has released a report that details the shakedown tactics that have been used by Jesse Jackson and his Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition against some of the biggest companies in the world. Jackson's current target is oil giant British Petroleum. Using one of his almost patented malapropisms, Jackson has informed BP that "We don't want charity, we want parity," as he mouthed a laundry list of what the oil company needs to do in order to get the "Reverend" to go away.
This isn't the first time Jackson has gone after a big business, typically claiming poor minority hiring practices by the business until the "offending" company caves in and comes up with cash for some of PUSH's pet projects.
His first shakedown of a corporation was directed at brewing giant Anheuser-Busch in 1982. Jackson, whose command of facts and figures often seems to change as the situation demands, claimed at the time that African-Americans were spending about $800 million yearly on AB products, yet only one of the brewery's distributors was black-owned. He also claimed that blacks made up somewhere between 15 to 20 percent of AB's customers.
Compare these charges from 24 years ago with those recently made by Jackson against BP. He claims that while British Petroleum gets 30 percent of the money African-Americans spend on gas, BP has few minorities in executive positions and few African-American distributors. In addition, fewer than 20 of its 13,000 retail stations in the United States are owned by blacks, adds Jackson, with nothing to substantiate any of these claims.
Now let's compare the facts in both situations.
AB at the time, actually had two African-American vice-presidents on their board, had established a $5 million fund to help finance additional minority ownership of its distributorships, and had set in place in 1969 a minority hiring practice that encompassed eighteen-percent of its 14,000 employees.
BP was a $10,000 sponsor of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition's 35th annual conference. In addition, about 20 percent of its independent BP and ARCO dealers come from minority groups, and two members of the company's board of directors are African-American.
Anyone see a pattern here? It's an old playbook that Jackson's is still using, but some companies are finally closing the door when Jackson tries to come in, hat in hand.
Hopefully, BP will ignore Jackson, as has the New York Stock Exchange since 2003 when it severed its relationship with Jackson's "Wall Street Project," a collective shakedown of some of America's biggest corporate names. That still leaves, however, too many businesses that continue to pander to Jackson, including Citigroup, Coca Cola, AOL Time Warner, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AT&T, Ford Motor Company, Enron, WorldCom, General Motors, IBM, Kodak, Boeing, Merrill Lynch and the DaimlerChrysler Corporate Fund.
It's time for shareholders to tell these publicly-owned businesses to just say "No!" to this "civil rights" carpetbagger or take their dollars elsewhere.