Artist’s drawing of proposed King memorial

The White House is responding to revelations that the children of Martin Luther King Jr. are getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the “use” of his image and words on products related to a King memorial scheduled for the National Mall in Washington with a no comment.

The question was raised by Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, after reports the King family is charging the foundation raising the funds for the memorial more than $760,000 for the “intellectual properties” as well as a $71,000 management fee.

According to the New York Times, the fees were for using the images and words on fundraising materials – designed to solicit donations for the granite statue planned of the civil rights leader.

The exchange between Kinsolving and Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s spokesman, went like this:

Kinsolving: “On Friday afternoon, the Associated Press reported – and this is a quote – ‘The family of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. has charged the foundation that’s building a King monument in the National Mall about $800,000 for the use of his words and image.’ And my question … ”

Gibbs: “Let’s tread lightly here, Lester.”

Kinsolving: “Yes. Since historian David Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Dr. King, was reported by AP to have been ‘absolutely scandalized by the profiteering behavior of King’s children.’ What was the president’s reaction to this AP report?”

Gibbs: “Don’t take this to mean anything about the Associated Press, but I am unfamiliar if the president has seen that report, and neither have I.”

Kinsolving: “Well, since this news was also reported by The New York Times…”

Gibbs: “Whoa, now – (laughter)– I see we’re on the second row now, Lester.”

Kinsolving: “What is your reaction as the president’s press secretary?”

Gibbs: “I was in Trinidad this weekend. I didn’t have handy my copy of The New York Times, and I didn’t read this on the AP wire. So I will…”

Kinsolving: “But you will look into it, won’t you?”

Gibbs: “I’ll put that into my – I will endeavor to check.”

According to an Associated Press report, the planned 28-foot sculpture of King will be paid for by private money and eventually is to be given to the National Park Service.

Historian David Garrow of Cambridge, who wrote a biography of King, told the wire agency, “One would think any family would be so thrilled to have their forefather celebrated and memorialized in D.C. that it would never dawn on them to ask for a penny.”

A statement to the news agency from Intellectual Properties Management, run by the King family, said the payments were arranged because of concern the monument would deplete donations to the King Center in Atlanta.

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