NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Rev. Al Sharpton on Tuesday addressed his long-known role in assisting a joint FBI-NYPD investigation in the 1980s.
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday, Sharpton said he did work with the FBI, but took umbrage at characterizations of him as a “rat.”
But others said Sharpton’s secret life was not by choice.
Michelle Obama may not have known that one of the guests at her recent White House birthday party worked with the FBI to help bring down members of the Genovese crime family – one of five historic organized crime families in New York City, Kramer reported.
Sharpton, now a confidant of both the First Lady and President Barack Obama – and of Mayor Bill de Blasio – had his own unique take on his days as the government’s “Confidential Informant No. 7.”
“In my own mind, I was not an informant,” Sharpton said at a Tuesday news conference. “I was cooperating with investigations.”
He defended all his work with the FBI.
“I’ve done a lot of things in life – some that if I could do again I would do differently,” Sharpton said. “But in this situation, I did what was right.”
Kramer reported the revelations could embarrass Sharpton as he kicks off his National Action Network convention this week, with Mayor de Blasio and President Obama as the headliners.
But de Blasio, who has called Sharpton “family,” is sticking by his buddy.
“It doesn’t change the relationship one bit,” Mayor de Blasio said. “I’m very proud to be his friend. I think he has done a lot of good for the city of New York and this country. I have the exact same positive view of him I did before.”
Sources said the mayor will cut the ribbon on Wednesday at the start of the three-day convention.
There is also the issue of how he became an informant. Some said he was pressured into it after he was caught in a drug sting.
An HBO undercover sting video that aired in 2002 showed Sharpton with a cowboy hat pulled down over his bouffant hairdo. Sharpton appeared to nod when an agent offered him a cut from future drug sales.
But Sharpton said he was first threatened by “music industry goons” years ago and went to the government for protection.
“They were threatening to kill me,” Sharpton said. “I did the right thing and would do it again.”