PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — E.D. Mondainé, president of Portland National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is being scrutinized by some members within the organization who say he improperly endorsed Ted Wheeler for mayor using the organization’s branding, despite national bylaws that prohibit endorsement of political candidates.
Mondainé denied this claim, telling KOIN 6 News he broke no NAACP bylaws and that his involvement with a pro-Wheeler political action committee was misreported.
On Wednesday, a newly formed political action committee dedicated to Wheeler’s re-election, called United for Portland, released a press release that included a quote from Mondainé, who is listed as a member of the coalition.
“We need leaders like Mayor Wheeler who will take strong actions in support of racial and economic justice, support peaceful protests, while rejecting the politics of hate and all forms of political violence,” Mondainé was quoted as saying.
At the bottom of the press release was a listed of “United for Portland Coalition Members,” in which “NAACP Portland” was listed as a member.
Elsewhere on the United for Portland website was the same quote from Mondainé and the Portland NAACP logo at the bottom of the web page. Both the quote and the logo have since been removed from the site within 24 hours of a press release issued Friday by Rise Up PDX, an accountability group with Portland NAACP, which laid out their issues with Mondainé.
The Rise Up PDX press release stated that bylaws for NAACP branches disallow endorsement of any candidate for public office. They pointed out that in early 2020, the national office of the NAACP removed the president of the Chattanooga, Tennessee branch for improper political action on behalf of a candidate.
“The Portland NAACP branch membership was neither consulted before Mondainé decided to endorse Mayor Wheeler, nor informed about the intent to endorse him, and so the members have not had the opportunity to object to this inappropriate political activity,” the statement from Rise Up PDX said.
The statement also pointed to an article in Willamette Week in which it stated that the NAACP branch is part of the coalition that is funding the PAC and that Wheeler even stated he had been endorsed by the NAACP Portland branch during a Thursday debate sponsored by KGW News and the Oregonian.
Rise Up PDX made several calls to action: On Mondainé to “publicly disavow and disentangle the organization immediately from the United for Portland PAC;” return any funds or in-kind resources expended by Portland NAACP on behalf of the PAC; and for Wheeler to publicly correct the record and state the NAACP Portland branch does not endorse his candidacy.
In a clarifying statement to KOIN 6 News issued by Mondainé after being asked whether Portland NAACP was indeed endorsing Wheeler or not, the president denied it.
“The NAACP has not, and will not, take a position in the Portland Mayor’s race. Furthermore, neither I in my position as President, nor the NAACP as an organization, have issued any kind of formal endorsement in the mayoral race. To do either of these would be a violation of the NAACP bylaws. As current President of the Portland Branch 1120, I am well aware of this fact and would not tolerate any violation of the organization’s bylaws,” Mondainé said.
The people behind the Rise Up PDX accountability group say Mondainé’s response is too little, too late.
“These things were on the website, the logo was on the website. This wasn’t something that was made up, this was something that was published,” Donovan Smith, an NAACP Portland chapter member and accountability group member, told KOIN 6 News.
Like Wheeler, Mondainé is also facing an election with challengers to his position this November. Smith is running for 2nd Vice President of Portland NAACP for a November 21 election, one of many member of the Rise Up PDX group that are hoping to refresh the leadership at the organization.
Vying for Mondainé’s seat as president is Sharon Gary-Smith, also an NAACP Member and part of the accountability group.
Gary-Smith told KOIN 6 News that the accountability group first coalesced informally about a year ago around a shared view that leadership under Mondainé was lacking. Gary-Smith said only recently has this shared realization manifested in members of the accountability group actually running for higher up positions within Portland NAACP.
Tamia Deary is another Portland NAACP member and member of the accountability group who is running for 1st Vice President.
The accountability group was made into a more formalized organization, Rise Up PDX, with an accompanying website, about a month and a half ago. The website already has 6,000 views, Smith said.
Below is E.D. Mondainé’s response to the claim put forth by Rise Up PDX that he improperly authorized Portland NAACP to endorse a mayor candidate, in its entirety:
NAACP President: Clarification on Recent
Willamette Week Article, Press Coverage
President Rev. E.D. Mondainé Provides Clarifications and
Corrections on Organizational, Personal Endorsements.
(Portland, OR, 10/9/20—) On October 7th, there was a piece published in the Willamette Week entitled, “A New Coalition Will Spend the Campaign Dollars Mayor Ted Wheeler Can’t.” This article insinuated that the NAACP had endorsed and was making financial contributions to Mayor Wheeler through this effort.
To be very clear, this is not the case. The NAACP has not, and will not, take a position in the Portland Mayor’s race. Furthermore, neither I in my position as President, nor the NAACP as an organization, have issued any kind of formal endorsement in the mayoral race. To do either of these would be a violation of the NAACP bylaws. As current President of the Portland Branch 1120, I am well aware of this fact and would not tolerate any violation of the organization’s bylaws.
I have participated in conversations with numerous individuals about the future of Portland and will continue to do so as a private citizen and as a community leader.
There is much truth in the dangers of changing leadership in the midst of dual pandemics as well as potential hazards, especially given the instability and uncertainty of our world right now, and I have said as much many times.
I have heard from members and supporters who were alarmed by the inaccuracies that have made their way into the media and I genuinely sympathize with them. I hope interested parties in the media will do all they can to help clarify this matter on behalf of their readers and viewers, just as we will be doing to our supporters.