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Hey, don’t take my word for it. Via the Raleigh News and Observer (bolded emphasis added by me):
A day after ousting the executive director, the chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party appears poised to nominate former civil rights and Nation of Islam leader Benjamin Chavis to the post, a contentious pick that may not earn support from party leaders.
Democratic Chairman Randy Voller said Monday he would name an executive director Wednesday who is a “North Carolina native and national leader.” The party’s First Vice Chairwoman Patsy Keever said Voller intends to name Chavis, who also served as executive director of the NAACP before being ousted nearly two decades ago amid a sexual harassment scandal.
“That is Randy’s intention,” she said.
Party attorney David Harris refused to offer details about the announcement. Over the weekend, a Twitter account in Chavis’ name posted: “I am now preparing to return to North Carolina. I want Democrats to win big: 2014 in NC & across America.” Voller promptly re-tweeted it.
If Voller selects Chavis, the state’s executive council must vote to confirm the pick.
Voller, the former Pittsboro mayor, abruptly fired the party’s day-to-day manager, Robert Dempsey, on Sunday, throwing the party into turmoil just as it sought to regain footing after falling from power and enduring months of questions surrounding its own sexual harassment complaint.
Chavis is a longtime civil rights advocate who was jailed for four years in 1970s as a member of the Wilmington 10, a group convicted but later cleared in a fire bombing that spurred a race riot in the city.
He became leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1993 but served less than 17 months after being ousted for striking a secret deal to pay an employee $332,400 to settle her sexual harassment claim.
Chavis, an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, later converted to Islam, taking the name Benjamin Muhammed. In 1997, he became second-in-command to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, leading the organization’s East Coast ministry, according to reports at the time.
Three years later, a woman connected to the Nation of Islam alleged in a lawsuit he sexually harassed her. It was settled in 2006, and the woman received $135,000 from the temple. Chavis did not pay any sum to settle the case, and he made no admission of liability.
Chavis did not respond to emailed questions.
Well, in his defense, he HAS been busy … editing his Wikipedia page. Wonder why? /sarc
The Chavis issue isn’t the only one confronting the NC Democratic Party this week. In fact, after just a day and a half, things already don’t look good:
— Will Tomlinson (@wtomlinson) February 11, 2014
Considering all the racial/misogynistic demagoguery and serious attempts at deliberately “crippling” the NC GOP-run state government by NC Democrats over the last year or so – in concert with the Moral Monday movement (the more cleaned up NC version of Occupy Wall Street), I don’t feel one bit sorry for the lot of them. They’ve frequently accused the NC GOP of bringing “national embarrassment” to the state, and most of the time it’s been over issues state liberals have embellished. Well, now’s their turn to shine in the national spotlight, to answer for stupid decision-making.
And I, for one, will be watching and chuckling, with popcorn in hand.
Update – 2/12/14 8:15 AM: As of last night, the party’s executive council, after a heated conference call, delayed plans to nominate Chavis:
The party’s executive council, a 51-member body that must be consulted before hiring a new director, met via a conference call Tuesday night. Voller did not address Dempsey’s firing. However, he did say that he began talking with Chavis when he learned the North Carolina native and civil rights leader was planning to move back to the state.
“Our main concern is to turn anger into action,” Voller said, referencing the discontent Democrats and others have displayed through the Moral Monday protests. He said Chavis could help the party “win elections from Sen. Kay Hagan on down to county commissioners.”
But, he told those on the call, “I’m not submitting his name at this point.”
During a sometimes contentious, nearly two-hour conference call, Voller struggled to get the council to approve the appointment of an interim director, Casey Mann, as members talked over one another and the conference call system struggled to determine which line was muted or not.
Mann was finally confirmed and the meeting was called to a close shortly afterward.
Voller originally said he hoped to have a face-to-face executive council meeting in Greensboro 10 days from now. Later in the call, he and other members said that meeting could take as long as 30 days to organize.
As they say, stay tuned!