BALTIMORE (AP) — As former NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume seeks to regain a congressional seat he once held, The Baltimore Sun reports that records show he left the civil rights organization amid concerns about sexual harassment and other issues.
The newspaper found records showing the group's executive committee took a secret vote not to extend Mfume's contract as CEO in 2004 after an employee threatened to sue the NAACP and Mfume for sexual harassment and other concerns. The personal and professional papers of the late Julian Bond, who was the NAACP's chairman at the time, say the vote came after a long period of dissatisfaction with Mfume's management and his personal behavior.
“The Executive Committee’s overwhelming vote was not lightly taken,” Bond wrote as he prepared to share the decision with the full board. “It came after a long period of growing dissatisfaction with high and constant staff turnovers, falling revenues, falling memberships, three consecutive negative performance appraisals, highly questionable hiring and promotion decisions, creation of new staff positions with no job descriptions, and personal behavior which placed each of us at legal and financial risk.”
The document is among Bond’s personal and professional papers at the University of Virginia. Bond, a longtime civil rights leader who died in 2015, was chairman of the Baltimore-based NAACP from 1998 to 2010.
Mfume declined to be interviewed by The Sun about the Bond records. He said in a statement: “Sometimes strong-willed leaders have differences of opinion. Julian and I were no different.” He said he took the organization from debt to a surplus, and received a raise in his final three-year contract in 2001.
“The people in the community know me, and I know them,” Mfume said. "They know what I am fighting for in this campaign and what I will fight for in Congress.”
Mfume is running in a crowded Democratic primary for Maryland's 7th Congressional District. The seat became vacant after the death of Elijah Cummings in October. Mfume held the seat before Cummings, from 1987 to 1996, when he left to lead the NAACP.
A special primary is scheduled for Feb. 4 in the heavily Democratic district.
Mfume, 71, and other NAACP leaders have maintained for years that he left the organization amicably and of his own accord.