Already under a barrage of criticism for allegedly "shaking down" American corporations, Jesse Jackson this month fired off a letter chastising General Electric for not including more minority firms in its recent multibillion-dollar bond sale. Jackson also provided a list of firms he referred to as "members" of his organization.
CNSNews.com obtained a copy of the letter, which was authenticated by a spokeswoman for Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition.
The unsigned letter, addressed to GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt, was dated March 14, one day after GE's $11 billion dollar bond offering, the second largest ever by a U.S. company.
"What concerns me is the dearth of minority banks involved in any aspect of the deal," Jackson wrote.
In the letter, Jackson also makes evident his frustration in not being able to influence GE.
"We have written either you or [former GE Chairman and CEO] Jack Welch several times to address the need for GE to consider minority-owned financial services firms in all aspects of your treasury operations from pension fund management to investment banking advisory services.
We received neither the courtesy of a telephone call nor a written response," Jackson wrote.
Jackson notes that GE's lack of a response was expected. "This action is not surprising given our history with you ... " Jackson wrote.
His opinion about GE's commitment to minorities is also clear in the letter.
"It is disappointing to think that GE, one of America's most innovative and respected companies, doesn't feel that any minority-owned firms have the capability to be part of what will probably be one of the largest bond offerings in 2002," the letter states.
Try My Cronies
Jackson's solution for GE is to hire companies with "relationships" to Jackson's Wall Street Project.
"We have established relationships with several minority-owned investment banks that have qualifications and expertise to deliver excellent results and value-added products," Jackson wrote.
"These firms are members of our Wall Street Project Trade Bureau. I have enclosed for your review, a list of these firms."
Wall Street Project's aim is to promote minority participation in corporate America. The list of recommended names that Jackson enclosed was not available to CNSNews.com at press time. Jackson ended the letter on an optimistic tone.
"It is my hope that you will take a leadership role within the overall business community and apply those same principles in your dealings with minority-owned financial institutions. In this respect, I look forward to speaking with you soon to schedule a meeting in which we can discuss ways to work together towards this goal," Jackson's letter states.
It concluded, "Best regards, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., President & Founder, Wall Street Project."
Jackson spokeswoman, Keiana Peyton-Barrett, confirmed for CNSNews.com the authenticity of the letter. "Yes, this letter was drafted from Rev. Jackson's office," she said.
Timmerman: 'Really Stunning'
Kenneth Timmerman, author of "Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson," a newly released book that takes a critical look at Jackson's financial empire and his political activities, called the letter to General Electric "really stunning" and evidence of yet another "shakedown" attempt by Jackson.
Timmerman said the letter "is clear proof of Jackson's brokerage deals on behalf of a small number of his personal friends who are large contributors to his organizations."
"Shakedown" is No. 3 on the New York Times' best-seller list.
Timmerman said the letter to GE reveals Jackson's attempts "to intimidate a major corporation with specious claims."
Ken Boehm, chairman of National Legal and Policy Center, praised GE for not responding to Jackson's repeated attempts to influence the $11 billion bond sale.
"GE is doing the right thing by ignoring him. They realize that Jackson's methods of operation are increasingly being viewed by most people as unethical." Boehm's legal watchdog group filed a formal complaint regarding Jackson's finances with the IRS last year.
A GE representative had no immediate comment on the letter or its claims that the company ignored minority firms in the bond sale.