Tamara Holder, a Fox News contributor, is accused of having an affair with Jesse Jackson, Sr. in a lawsuit that alleges the illegal use of a gay Jackson employee to facilitate the relationship.
The accuser, Tommy R. Bennett, was Jackson’s personal travel assistant and ran the legal clinic at Jackson’s organization, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. He says he was eventually fired for protesting his treatment by Jackson and other PUSH employees and is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
Holder has not responded to repeated requests for comment from Accuracy in Media, but Jackson’s press representative, Lauren Love, says the allegations are false and will be proven so.
Bennett attorney Thomas V. Leverso says that Jackson and PUSH have been stonewalling a legal response for many months but that investigations and the case are moving forward. Leverso tells Accuracy in Media that witnesses have come forward to verify the allegations against Jackson.·
Jackson, a minister and Democratic politician who served as an aide to Martin Luther King, Jr., suffered a major embarrassment in 2010 when he admitted to an extramarital affair that produced an illegitimate child.·
Bennett worked for Jackson for more than two years and was known as “Aruba Tommy” on local Chicago radio station WVON. The lawsuit alleges that Bennett was subjected to “humiliating tasks” because he was a homosexual, such as “escorting women to his [Jackson’s] hotel room” and then being ordered to clean up after Jackson had sexual intercourse with them.·
One of those women, the suit claims, was Tamara Holder, a pundit and criminal defense attorney who claims she “single-handedly” founded what she calls “a pro bono legal clinic at Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition.” A self-described Democrat, she appears regularly on Fox News to defend the Obama Administration and other prominent Democrats. “Because of the Democratic Party’s deep Chicago roots, Tamara has worked closely with some of the City’s most prominent leaders,” her website says.·
Another Holder website says that, in addition to being “a legal and political contributor for Fox News Channel,” she “previously wrote for The Huffington Post and now writes for The Daily Caller.” The latter identifies her as “one of the nation’s rising attorneys and legal analytical stars.”·
On one occasion, “Mr. Bennett was instructed by Rev. Jackson to escort Ms. Holder to Rev. Jackson’s hotel room at the Hilton at Chicago O’Hare airport,” the suit says.·
The lawsuit, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, says Bennett was director of the clinic but that when he objected to Holder taking a majority of the cases and charging too much to poor clients, he was replaced. He says Jackson then gave control of the clinic to Holder.·
The allegations are the subject of several legal actions and complaints, including one by Bennett to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, which is still under investigation, and another to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, which was not acted upon, prompting the lawsuit.·
Bennett’s original complaint consisted of seven charges, including that Jackson exhibited a “bigoted attitude” toward homosexuals and ordered him to perform “improper job duties.” This was followed by a “supplemental statement of facts” from his attorney that runs eight pages in length.
This document declares, “It was well known that Ms. Holder was a mistress of Rev. Jackson,” and states that the Jackson family was informed of this because of a letter from another Jackson mistress.
It refers to Jackson visiting Holder’s apartment, while Bennett waited in a car outside, and “several occasions” during which Bennett “was instructed by Rev. Jackson to escort Ms. Holder to Rev. Jackson’s hotel room at the Hilton at Chicago O’Hare airport.”·
Lauren Love, who runs the Rainbow PUSH Coalition press department, provided a statement to AIM that said:·
“The Rainbow PUSH Coalition unequivocally denies Tommy Bennett’s false claims of harassment, retaliation and discrimination. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. unequivocally denies Tommy Bennett’s false claims of harassment, retaliation and discrimination. We are fully cooperating with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and expect to be fully exonerated.·
“The organization does not condone or tolerate discrimination in any form. Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition stands on their record of advocating for equality and human rights for all people—from standing up to affirm the humanity of persons with HIV-AIDS and advocating for HIV-AIDS education and research, to supporting marriage equality and the abolition of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy of the U.S. Military.·
“His inflammatory allegations are an attempt to malign Rev. Jackson and the organization, and are hurtful and harmful to the progressive community.·
“Rainbow PUSH and Rev. Jackson will have no further comment while the matter is pending before the Commission.”·
The Bennett allegations have been covered by some gay media and one of the supermarket tabloids. The National Enquirer, which broke the story of the Jackson mistress that produced the illegitimate child, wrote about the Bennett charges in a story headlined, “Jesse Jackson Gay Sex Shocker Legal War.”·
The Courthouse News Service has run a lengthy account of the “lurid” allegations, while the Chicago Sun-Times published a small story which made no mention of Tamara Holder being named in it. Holder says the Chicago Sun-Times once recognized her as one of “50 People Who Make Chicago a Better Place.”·
In addition to the alleged relationship with Holder, Jackson is accused of demanding sexual favors from Bennett, such as being told to apply a cream on Jackson’s inner thigh to treat a rash. Bennett says he refused, Jackson became angry, and called Bennett a “little mother——.”·
“My termination was discriminatory and retaliatory,” says Bennett’s complaint. He was told he was fired because of a “drastic economic downturn” when in fact another individual was hired to replace him.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at [email protected].