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Rainbow-PUSH board says payment to Stanford was severance pay

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- Board members of the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition Friday said a payment of $35,000 to the woman who had a baby with the group's founder, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, was severance pay, and denied there were any further payments.

The executive vice president of the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition, the Rev. James Meeks, said the payment was made when Karin Stanford, the former head of the coalition's office in Washington, moved to California.

"We have not paid and we are not paying monthly payments to Karin Stanford. The allegation is $10,000. We do not pay her any monthly compensation," Meeks said. "Number two, we are not buying her, nor have we paid for a house for Karin Stanford, and third of all, the $35,000 she received was severance pay."

Meeks' comments came as the group voiced its support for Jackson, a day after tabloid reports revealed he had fathered a child out of wedlock.

A statement released late Friday by a lawyer representing Stanford said she has not received any compensation as a result of the story about her affair with Jackson.

"As a mother, her interest is in rearing her child outside of the public spotlight," the statement read. "It is her position that this is a private matter and remains a private matter."

The Rainbow-PUSH Coalition board met Friday in Chicago to discuss the events surrounding Jackson and members said they accepted his public apology.

"We applaud him because his statement was swift, it was responsible, and it was contrite," Meeks said. "We accepted the contrition and the spirit behind it and our board, in our session, unanimously accepted this statement as well as accepted Rev. Jackson's apology."

Meeks questioned the timing of the revelation, just three days before Jackson was to lead a rally in Tallahassee, Florida. to protest recent election problems in the state.

"Three days before the election, when George [W.] Bush's driving record was mysteriously leaked, George Bush simply said, 'Something is awfully suspicious,'" Meeks said. "And we think that it is something awfully suspicious about the timing of this 2-year-old story that it would find its way to the public attention three days before the march in Florida."

Earlier Friday, Jackson spokesman John Scanlon said Jackson would not be attending the rally because he wanted to continue reconciling with his family after Thursday's revelation.

Jackson also thought his appearance at the Fairness in Democracy rally, organized in part by the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition, would detract from the key messages of the event, Scanlon said.

The demonstration was planned for noon Saturday in front of the state capitol in Tallahassee. A diverse group of labor, civil rights, religious, women's rights and education activists were expected to attend, calling for renewed voter registration and education campaigns.

Scanlon said Jackson indicated to him his first public appearance would likely be at the 4th Annual Wall Street Project Conference in New York, January 23-26. He did not know when Jackson might appear at the event, which deals with the issue of corporate diversity.



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