The Huffington Post/AP
The group was expected to honor Sterling with a lifetime achievement award, but withdrew its plans after audio recordings of Sterling making racist comments emerged. Jenkins announced Monday that Sterling’s donations to the organization would be returned, adding, “There is a personal, economic and social price that Mr. Sterling must pay for his attempt to turn back the clock on race relations.” Sterling was banned for life from the NBA on Tuesday and fined $2.5 million.
Records indicate that Sterling’s foundations have given Jenkins’ branch at least $45,000 since 2007, The New York Times reports. The Times also points out that Sterling was given a similar award under Jenkins’ leadership in 2009.
“Please be advised that the legacy, history and reputation of the NAACP is more important to me than the presidency,” Jenkins declared in his letter of resignation shared in a NAACP statement. He added that he was resigning “In order to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused the NAACP.”
The NAACP added that the national office is developing branch guidelines for the award selection process.
Jenkins had his own legal problems, which also came into focus this week. For years, he has been banned from practicing law in California based on allegations of corruption when he was a young judge in Detroit.
In 1988, federal prosecutors charged Jenkins with extortion and racketeering conspiracy, saying he requested and received money, jewelry, a handgun and other gifts to dismiss traffic tickets and other misdemeanors. While Jenkins was acquitted after two trials, in 1991 the Michigan Supreme Court removed him as a judge.
He had “systematically and routinely sold his office and his public trust,” then-Chief Justice Michael Cavanagh said at the time.
In April, three judges with California’s State Bar Court denied Jenkins’ most recent request to practice law again. The judges lauded Jenkins’ volunteer work with the NAACP and other organizations, but they cited several instances in which they said he misrepresented his finances or other aspects of his personal life.
“Despite Jenkins’ impressive good character evidence and community service, he continues to commit errors in judgment that call into question his rehabilitation and present good moral character,” the judges wrote.