Al Sharpton on Monday dismissed a report portraying him as a one-time mob informant for the FBI, calling the claims old news and a “crazy” attempt to discredit him.
“I don’t see this as news,” Sharpton told FoxNews.com. “This has been brought up three or four times now. I don’t understand. It’s crazy.”
TheSmokingGun.com story describes in detail how Sharpton in the mid-1980s secretly recorded Mafia bosses and other underworld figures for an FBI-NYPD crime task force.
The 12,196-word story -- in which he is referred to as CI-7, short for confidential informant #7 -- says investigators got Sharpton to “flip” after getting him close enough to agreeing to broker a drug deal connected to boxing promoter Don King that they could threaten him with charges.
Though the task force took a “shotgun” approach in giving Sharpton a variety of snitching assignments, they ultimately wanted inroads into the corrupt New York music industry and realized he had the connections, according to the story.
Sharpton did not deny working with the FBI but pushed back on the details in the Smoking Gun report.
The 59-year-old told FoxNews.com he was just "trying to get bad guys out of the music industry, and that is offensive to the American flag."
A written response through his National Action Network called the Smoking Gun story “erroneous.”
In the response, Sharpton acknowledged having contact with the FBI, saying he told agents he was threatened by mobsters and that authorities should investigate the mob trying to squeeze black concert promoters. He suggested the relationship did not go much beyond that.
“If they used some of the information that we gathered around crimes with guys … who threatened me and inadvertently led to other cases with me, I have no knowledge and serious doubts they took a lot of other information to go in front of certain judges,” Sharpton said. “I have no knowledge of doing anything more than trying to stop the mob from threatening and limiting our fight for Black concert promoters.”
Sharpton also said he addressed the issue in his 1996 book “Go and Tell Pharaoh: The Autobiography of Reverend Al Sharpton.”
An FBI spokesman said: "As a rule, the [agency] does not confirm the identity of sources."
Sharpton has been involved in numerous controversies, most notably for championing the 1987 case of Tawana Brawley, a black teen who falsely accused six white males of raping her. In years past, Sharpton has also used slurs against gays and Jews but slowly transformed his career.
In 2011, he joined MSNBC as a commentator and has become a friend and close-but-informal adviser for President Obama.
He has attended numerous private and public Obama White House events. And later this week, the president and Attorney General Eric Holder are scheduled to travel to Manhattan to attend the National Action Network’s annual conference.
Sharpton told FoxNews.com the SmokingGun.com story was “probably” timed for the conference.