The president of the Birmingham, Ala. NAACP is under fire for allegedly trying to sell endorsements from an influential local PAC, after he told local candidates if they did not buy a table or ad at an event, they would not be considered for an endorsement.
Hezekiah Jackson, president of the Birmingham branch of the NAACP, is also a member of a local PAC called Team Seven, and on the committee for an upcoming Feb. 4 banquet.
In an email to local candidates, obtained by AL.com, Jackson laid out the prices of each table and advertisement, and how much each candidate would get to speak before the donation:
The email read:
1. Deadline to submit payment is Friday, January 23, 2016 to me (Jackson) or Pastor Webb (Ad committee co-chair Gwen Webb).
2. Candidates purchasing an ad ($500) will have two minutes to speak.
3. Candidates purchasing a table ($500) will have two minutes to speak.
4. Candidates purchasing a combo (ad -- $250 and table for eight -- $500 = $750) will have three minutes to speak.
However, crucially, Jackson also added:
“Candidates who do not purchase an ad nor a table WILL NOT be considered for endorsement.”
John Archibald, who reported the email for AL.com, accused Jackson of engaging in “pay to play,” calling the move brash and mercenary.
“Which means you pay to play. And the endorsement you get, the check mark on the ballot and the claim that Team Seven considers you the best darn candidate in your particular race, is worth nothing. But for the money you spent on it,” Archibald wrote.
Calls to Jackson’s office from FoxNews.com were not returned.
However, Sandra Little Brown, the group’s founder and a Jefferson County commissioner, told FoxNews.com Friday the email was not in compliance with the PAC’s policies, and the email was swiftly corrected after it was brought to their attention.
“Team Seven has a policy that we will endorse candidates even if they’re not present or make contributions,” Brown told FoxNews.com. “We endorsed Barack Obama too but we didn’t get any contributions from him.”
She also said that tickets to the event are free and are frequently given to people in the community.
“Tickets are free, and we encourage candidates to let us give them to people in the community. It’s a free banquet, so people get a chance to have a free meal and listen to all the candidates. We don’t sell even one ticket, we just sell tables,” she said.
Brown confirmed that Jackson is still a member of Team Seven, despite the controversy surrounding the email.