Diary

Percy Sutton dies; helped Obama get into Harvard Law School(?)

Former Manhattan Borough President (disclosure: I ran for the position in 2005) Percy Sutton has died:

Percy Sutton, Eminent Black Politician, Dies at 89
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Published: December 27, 2009
Percy E. Sutton, who displayed fierce intelligence and exquisite polish in becoming one of the nation’s most prominent black political and business leaders, died on Saturday, The Associated Press reported. He was 89.
(…)
He was also an eminent politician in New York City, rising from the Democratic clubhouses of Harlem to become the longest serving Manhattan borough president and, for more than a decade, the highest black official in the city. In 1977, he was the first seriously regarded black candidate for mayor.

Percy Sutton stands in recent memory for an interview he gave to the local all-NYC news channel, NY1. From Ben Smith of POLITICO:

September 04, 2008
Obama camp denies Sutton story
Barack Obama’s campaign is flatly denying a story told by former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, who cast an ex-Black Panther turned Muslim businessman and lecturer as a key Obama mentor but whose story seems off in at least one key detail.

Sutton’s story, told in what NY1 said was a March 25 interview, has been lighting up the conservative blogs for the last week.

Sutton, now in his late 80s and mostly off the public stage, told NY1’s Dominic Carter that he was asked to write a letter of recommendation to Harvard Law School on Obama’s behalf by a man named Khalid al-Mansour of Texas, “the principle adviser to one of the world’s richest men” who was also “raising money for [Obama].”

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told Politico that “Obama did not know and does not know Khalid al-Mansour.”

LaBolt said Obama doesn’t have a relationship with Sutton and that “to our knowledge, no such letter was written.” Obama was in Chicago, not New York, when he applied to Harvard.

The person to whom Sutton was apparently referring, al-Mansour, is a former Black Panther and an adviser to Saudi royalty who has produced, as Amanda Carpenter noted, some YouTube clips that would light up cable television if he’s actually been close to Obama. He’s also been quoted backing the Palestinian side in the Middle East conflict, though he has not been quoted supporting violence there. NewsMax’s Kenneth Timmerman reported yesterday that he spoke to al-Mansour, who wouldn’t comment on Sutton’s story.
(…)
UPDATE: I spoke to Mansour Thursday evening, who said he’d avoided directly contradicting the story out of respect for Sutton, “a dear friend, his health is not good.”

But pressed, he denied all the details of Sutton’s story.

“The scenario as it related to me did not happen,” he said.

“I’m sure he’s written a letter [to someone else] and he got it confused somehow,” he said of Sutton, adding that he’d never asked Sutton to write a letter to any university supporting anyone’s admission.

Mansour said he admires Obama, but first heard of him when a relative sent him a copy of Obama’s 2004 convention speech.

“I’ve never met him,” he said.

Obama did not graduate with honors from Columbia University, yet he was accepted into Harvard Law School. We don’t know Obama’s LSAT score and we can’t see his application. Obama ran for president, yet we know less about him that a regular job applicant or any normal person applying for a security clearance.

Sutton was clearly ailing in the video, but it’s difficult to believe he’d make the whole thing up. Yes, Sutton could have confused Obama with another person applying to Harvard Law School, I suppose. But a name like al-Mansour you just don’t pull out of your ass for no reason.

Obama will never mourn Sutton’s passing because–say no more!–they never knew each other.

President Obama, can you just let us see your law school documents so we can know the truth?