Sharpton Was Paid to Back Kerry

All of John Kerry's (search) one-time rivals in the Democratic presidential primary eventually lined up to support him as the nominee, but only one got paid for it — Al Sharpton (search).

The Democratic National Committee (search) paid Sharpton $86,715 in travel and consulting fees to compensate for his campaigning for Kerry and other Democratic candidates, according to reports to the Federal Election Commission (search).

In an interview with The Associated Press, Sharpton said he was paid for travel and he didn't know how much he had been reimbursed.

"They asked me to travel to 20 or 30 cities to campaign, and I did that," Sharpton said. "What am I supposed to do, donate the cost of airfare?"

But records show that while most of the money was to reimburse travel expenses, Sharpton was paid $35,000 as a "political consulting fee" 15 days after the election. The consulting fee was first reported in this week's edition of the Village Voice.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Jano Cabrera said the party paid Sharpton at the request of the Kerry campaign.

"After meeting with Kerry's staff, we did agree to pay for Reverend Sharpton's travel and consulting expenses," Cabrera said. "He traveled very extensively to help the nominee and Democrats across the board, encouraging them to get out and vote on November 2."

Sharpton frequently appeared at Kerry's side in the final weeks before the election as Kerry was trying to connect with black voters. Sharpton was with Kerry in largely black churches and when he spoke to other black audiences.

Kerry's eight other former rivals from the Democratic primary also worked to varying degrees to get Kerry elected. In particular, Wesley Clark, Bob Graham, Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich often campaigned with Kerry, although the latter three mostly appeared in their home states. But none of the other eight Democrats who were once in the race were paid travel reimbursements or consulting fees, according to a search of federal records collected by tracking service PoliticalMoneyLine (search).

Cabrera would not say when the party agreed to pay Sharpton or whether he requested the consulting fees. Cabrera said that information was part of private negotiations.