Al Sharpton Talks with Bill O'Reilly

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 12, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer (search) says the FBI is investigating Al Sharpton (search) for possible misuse of campaign donations, and there is a videotape of him accepting some money. We contacted the FBI (search). As usual, they were not forthcoming, just confirming there is an investigation. Reverend Sharpton joins us now. Are you worried about this?

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Absolutely not. I mean, when I read the story that says that two men met with me and had committed that they would raise funds for our campaign, which they did, and gave money to the campaign and the Philly Inquirer says themselves there are substantial amounts of money that we did, in fact, put in our FEC federal elections report, then what is the alleged misdeed?

O'REILLY: Well, apparently one of these guys is deceased, this guy White, and the other guy is alive. Apparently they say they gave you a certain figure and you only reported a figure that was far under the figure. But, look, that's what they say.

SHARPTON: But the same article in the Philly Inquirer says that after they looked at it, that maybe the guy didn't understand that you file different quarters, and that all of it seemed to be there. So I think that it is ridiculous — I think what it is, Bill, that bothers me most, is that why don't the reporters just go to the FEC (search)? Apparently the FBI must have. This was two years ago.

O'REILLY: OK, but the FBI did confirm to Fox News there is still an investigation. Now, is there a videotape of you putting money in your pocket?

SHARPTON: If they handed me the envelopes, I probably did put the envelopes in my pocket and gave them to the treasurer who filed them. The issue is whether or not there was a filing.

O'REILLY: Was it cash?

SHARPTON: Absolutely not. I think the article said it was all checks. There is no such thing as...

O'REILLY: So there could be a videotape out there which the Philadelphia Inquirer said they saw, we don't know, that shows you putting cash in your pocket — not cash, checks in your pocket.

SHARPTON: Which any fund-raiser from George Bush to Bill Clinton would do at a meeting with people raising money. The thing that I said is that the FBI released a tape, let's see the names on the checks, and if you check them with out filing, they would have been filed, end of story.

O'REILLY: So you're not worried about this at all?

SHARPTON: It's two years old. According to them it was taped two years ago. It takes the FBI two years to go and check a filing? I think that's ridiculous.

O'REILLY: Well, I don't know, but you're not worried?

SHARPTON: Absolutely not.

O'REILLY: OK. Because you had to pay $100,000 in May of 2004, the FEC ruled that your campaign did something wrong, you had to pay $100,000?

SHARPTON: No, what they ruled is they claimed that we had - that I had too much personal money in my campaign and they wanted us to reimburse it. We appealed that. Which is a far cry from here. You would think if the FEC had this two years ago that would have been what they were coming off. But this only came out because one of these gentlemen got in trouble unrelated and they found out they had these tapes and never gave this to them. And I think this is a prosecutor trying to protect themselves from a mistrial on this guy. It really doesn't have a lot to do with me at all.

O'REILLY: Now somebody in Philadelphia told us that you brought up the race thing here. Did you say anything about race?

SHARPTON: What I said is it is interesting to me that we have seen money returned from Edwards' campaign, Kerry's campaign, others, and that all of a sudden with me they authorize wiretaps? Can you imagine them wiretapping John Kerry when he took a bank loan for his campaign or John Edwards when lawyers had to return it? The other thing that is interesting is the investigation in Philadelphia, they put a bug in Mayor Street's office.

Now they said they were investigating the industry controller of New York who is black, who was at the time talking about running for mayor. Now they wire a meeting with me legitimately taking money from two people who were fund-raisers. None of them were under indictment at the time.

O'REILLY: You really think it's a racial thing?

SHARPTON: Well, I think the fact that the media is not saying to them, if, in fact, the "Philly Inquirer" said money was in fact reported, what is the story here? What are you looking into if the money...

O'REILLY: Well, we have the FBI — But you know how the FBI is. They don't comment on specifics in an investigation.

SHARPTON: Again, are we still in a world where you can have unnamed sources from the FBI undefined, and glaring headlines and you defend yourself against ghosts. And this one is against stuff that you reported. And even in the same Philly Inquirer story it says these usually don't raise to a crime anyway. First of all, I'm not the treasurer of my campaign. I couldn't even tell you where these bank accounts were. If, in fact, someone didn't report something and apparently they did, it wouldn't be me anyway that would make the report. Why would you bug me? If a producer in your show didn't write something in, they would then wire you?

O'REILLY: Apparently these two guys are out to get you in Philadelphia. They came forward. One of them is dead, one is still alive. Why did Hawkins...

SHARPTON: They didn't come forward at all. According to the story, they were picked up on a tape.

O'REILLY: OK, but here's what happened. In order to get the judge's permission to set up that sting on you, all right, with the hidden camera, they had to have depositions from these guys and they got them.

SHARPTON: Well, if they had depositions from the guys, and if the guys said what — that we didn't disclose it? And in fact the Inquirer has now established they were in fact disclosed.

O'REILLY: Now, I don't want to try the case. I'm just telling you.

SHARPTON: It's interesting these guys are under indictment for something else and no one has come to me, to anyone in my campaign. No one has come to anyone in my campaign. Now I think this is a whole lot of hogwash, and I think that a lot of people that were disappointed they couldn't get us connected to whatever this was in Philly tried to use this as some other way to smear us.

O'REILLY: And somebody leaked this to the Philadelphia Inquirer by the way.

SHARPTON: Interesting. Isn't it?

O'REILLY: And the FBI should check that out, shouldn't they?

SHARPTON: The FBI should check. If they were doing an investigation and somebody leaked a tape in the middle of their investigation, that person ought to be prosecuted. Which is why this sounds very political.

O'REILLY: If they don't indict you or don't do anything to you, then we're going to insist the FBI investigate who leaked that tape, because it's not fair.

SHARPTON: I also want to insist that they release the tape and let's see if the names in there were disclosed. They claim it was a round of disclosures. First of all, let's see who they are.

O'REILLY: Well they'll have to do that sooner or later.

SHARPTON: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: All right, Reverend. You're smart to come in here and confront this head on.

SHARPTON: Thank you. And thank you, by the way, for speaking at our convention. You were very frank.

O'REILLY: But on this case, you don't want to be demonized by the press. You want to meet these things head on.

SHARPTON: That's why I come to the No-Spin Zone.

O'REILLY: We appreciate you. You're smart to do it.

SHARPTON: All right.

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