When he ran in a four-person special election for the 1st Ward seat in 2015, councilman Michael Jackson promised to give his $41,200 City Council salary to community organizations and people in need.
Jackson has earned approximately $167,400 from his council pay since taking office. How much did the councilman give to charity?
The councilman could not provide a figure on Tuesday. He said he has given to numerous causes, but could not quantify the amount. His sole publicly documented act of beneficence was $5,500 in scholarship and stipends distributed in 2016.
‘For the love’ not money
Jackson immediately denied ever making the promise to donate his full paycheck to charity on Tuesday.
“If you find a video where I said I would donate my entire paycheck, I will give you my entire paycheck,” said Jackson. “I said I would be donating proceeds from the council salary back to the public which I have done.”
Jackson said he has given out scholarships. He said he has given money to people to clean up the neighborhoods. Over the past years, he has said he funds youth sports teams.
“I can’t quantify,” said Jackson.
But he did make that promise. Contemporary news stories list his promise. A Paterson Times story from Nov. 25, 2015 states Jackson promised to donate his paycheck to charity. A Bergen Record/Paterson Press story, also from Nov. 25, 2015, states Jackson made the promise to give his full paycheck to charitable causes.
Jackson even outlined in the Bergen Record story how he would donate the paycheck. He would receive the check from the municipal government and distribute to groups and individuals of his choosing in the 1st Ward. How would the public know of his donations? Jackson at the time said he would announce them. No announcements were ever made. He told voters he was running “for the love” not for the money.
Jackson has struggled with his personal and business finances over the years.
The councilman is up for re-election next month. He is facing two opponents – Nakima Redmon and Mosleh Uddin – in the May 12 race.
Redmon declined to comment.
“Usually, when you make a donation, you have a receipt or have a record of it,” said Uddin. He said Jackson should disclose the list of charities he has given to for the sake of transparency.
Jackson first ran for office in 2014. He wanted an at-large City Council seat. He faced scrutiny over his business, Jacksonville Restaurant, and personal finances. At the time, Jackson had defaulted on a $140,000 business loan and had filed for bankruptcy. His pay is being garnished for the loan default and he has abandoned the bankruptcy filing, according to state and federal courts. He lost the 2014 bid. The next year, after the conviction of Anthony Davis the 1st Ward seat opened up. He ran in a special election in Nov. 2015 and won. He was sworn in later in the month.
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Updated 10:36 a.m.