NAACP LA leader resigns over Sterling scandal

LOS ANGELES - The president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP resigned today amid questions about the organization's relationship with Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life from the NAACP for racist comments that were caught on tape and made public over the weekend.
 
"Please be advised that the legacy, history and reputation of the NAACP is more important to me than the presidency," Leon Jenkins wrote in his resignation letter. "In order to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused the NAACP, I respectfully resign my
position as president of the Los Angeles NAACP."
 
Jenkins made headlines earlier this week when he held a news conference in Culver City to announce that the group was dropping plans to present Sterling with a humanitarian award at a May 15 banquet. He also said the group would be returning donations Sterling had made to the group -- an amount he
described as "insignificant."
 
In a statement announcing Jenkins' resignation, the national office of the NAACP said the organization "is developing guidelines for its branches to help them in their award selection process."
 
Despite Jenkins' announcement about rescinding the upcoming honor, questions lingered about the NAACP chapter's long-standing ties to Sterling.   

Sterling was also honored by the organization in 2009. Asked about whether the group planned to take back that award, Jenkins responded, "This is not like the Heisman Trophy, dude."
 
"We gave out an award. He has it. We're not going to renege on it. ...We're not going to ask him return an award that he got years ago."
 
He also defended the group's ties with Sterling, saying the 80-year-old Clippers owner was a generous donor to scholarship funds and charities and invited black children to summer camps.
 
The relationship between the NAACP chapter and Sterling continued despite allegations that the real-estate magnate discriminated against black, Hispanic and Korean tenants at his various residential properties.
 
The New York Times reported on its website that Jenkins served as a judge in Detroit in the 1980s but was removed from the bench and disbarred over allegations that he solicited and accepted bribes. He was indicted by a federal grand jury but acquitted. The Michigan Supreme Court, however, concluded in its own review that Jenkins "systematically and routinely sold his office and his public trust," according to the New York Times report.

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