No sooner had former Congressman and President of the NAACP Kweisi Mfume announced that he would be running for Senator in 2006 than the allegations began to fly. The WaPo reports:
Allegations detailed in a confidential NAACP report claim that Kweisi Mfume gave raises and promotions to women with whom he had close personal relationships while he was president of the nation's oldest civil rights organization.Read the whole thing here.
The 22-page memorandum, prepared last summer by an outside lawyer, did not accept as true the claims lodged against Mfume by a female employee but determined that they could be "very difficult to defend persuasively" if she filed a lawsuit.
Mfume, 56, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, has denied the allegations. In an interview yesterday, he said the allegations in no way influenced his Nov. 30 announcement that he would leave the NAACP after nine years.
"I don't engage in inappropriate behavior," he said in the interview. "And if I did, I'm sure after nine years there, 10 years in the Congress and seven years on the [Baltimore] City Council, it would have been an issue long before your telephone call to me."
What this amounts to is unsubstantiated allegations made by a woman seeking hush money from the NAACP, which has been plagued by these sorts of things in the past. Already we have seen this year in Maryland unsubstantiated charges leveled against Baltimore Mayor O'Malley and Governor Ehrlich. Now it's Mfume's turn. This will not be the end of it. Rest assured that between now and the 2006 elections similar unsubstantiated allegations and rumors will have been circulated about nearly every major candidate for office. Sad, but that's the way the game is played in Maryland.
Dave Wissing over at Hedgehog Report thinks that it is the WaPo that is pulling the strings, no Maryland politicos. He writes:
Apparently The Washington Post feels the same way I do, that Ben Cardin [who just announced his candidacy a few days ago] is the stronger candidate for the Democrats, and is going to whatever it can to make sure Kweisi Mfume does not get the nomination. That is the most likely reason for this early hit piece on Mfume, to try and damage his campaign before it can even get started…..Read him here.
It certainly is a hit piece, but I doubt that the WaPo is doing anything more than simply printing what came in over the transom. The most likely sources are people in the Cardin campaign or people at the NAACP with a grudge against Mfume. I do agree that Cardin would be a stronger candidate than Mfume, especially if the Republicans run Steele.