Former Black Caucus leader: State party needs to address hoax
Asheville City Councilman Keith Young, who is Chairman of the Buncombe County Democratic Party’s African-American Caucus (AAC) has so far not responded to the Tribune’s invitation to comment on an apparently invalid “petition and complaint to remove” state party Patsy Keever of Asheville which began circulating last month.
Keever herself has not replied to questions from the Tribune about the document itself, the circumstances which spawned it, the possible motives behind it or what counter measures might be taken against its originators.
Nor has Buncombe County Democratic Party chair Kathy Sinclair.
Meanwhile Willie Fleming of Charlotte, the immediate past Chairman of the state AAC, says he doesn’t understand why the party’s executive body has not moved to quash the bogus complaint.
“Why isn’t the NCDP legal department doing anything?” Fleming asked during a Tribune interview last week. “We’ve got a whole legal department [with] some good legal talent.”
“We can’t just kick this further down the road,” incumbent AAC chair Linda Wilkins-Daniels said in an earlier interview. “It definitely needs to be dealt with.”
“These people are a rogue group,” Wilkins-Daniels said. “They are trying to advance their own agenda and they are using dirty tricks to do it.”
Around the time of the state Democratic Party’s convention, which began June 11, a document in legal complaint format surfaced in state political circles. The document was printed on letterhead reading, “North Carolina Democratic Party Council of Review” and bearing the address “220 Hillsboro Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27603.” The Council of Review is the entity charged with examining intra-party complaints and the address is that of Goodwin House, the Raleigh mansion that serves as state party headquarters.
The document – which apparently is still circulating — alleges that Keever, as state chair, was responsible for “wrongfully and deliberately, if not illegally” conducting conventions in “unconstitutional congressional Districts.” In jumbled legalese, it goes on to say, “NCDP Chairperson Patsy Keever-Aycock’s wrongfully, direct/indirect, without authority, deliberately and recklessly imposed her personal and family designed racial discriminatory practices against the AAC-NCDP Auxiliary Caucus Administration and Operation [sic].” It does not explain what is meant by “personal and family designed racial discriminatory practices.”
Three petitioners are shown as initiating the action: Perry Graves of Reidsville, described as a member of AAC from Rockingham County; Valeria Conyers of Goldsboro, listed as “2nd Vice President” of the AAC; and Chenita Johnson of Winston-Salem, listed as “1st Vice President” of the Forsythe County AAC. But, Wilkins-Daniels said, Graves “isn’t a member of the African American Caucus of Rockingham County. Per our bylaws the executive committee approves all county caucuses. Rockingham County didn’t seek approval and therefore [does] not [have] a legitimate caucus.”
Petitioner Conyers, Wilkins-Daniels said, “isn’t the 2nd Vice President of the AAC-NCDP. The legitimate 2nd Vice President is Phyllis Perry of Charlotte.” And petitioner Johnson “isn’t the 1st Vice President. The 1st vice president is Jaymes Powell.”
The document further names as co-petitioners “NC Democratic Party members from 52 African-American Counties … and other NC Minority Caucus Auxiliary and Democratic members et al,” but Wilkins-Daniels said most of the “petitioners” embraced by that heading are not even aware that they have been named as such, and for that matter “are unaware that a petition is in circulation to remove Patsy Keever.”
“We’ve been dealing with these people for several years now,” said Willie Fleming, who is Wilkins-Daniels’ immediate predecessor as AAC Chairman. “They are bent on causing confusion and dissension within the party.”
The complaint alleges that Keever was aware of, condoned and even encouraged “malfeasance” on the part of Fleming. It alleges misappropriated party funds and of keeping in office a treasurer who, according to the petition, “didn’t file a report for three years.” The petition says Keever was aware of the accusations against Fleming but nevertheless kept him on board the state party’s administration in an advisory capacity.
But Fleming promptly denied the accusation, calling it “crazy” and “libelous.” He said, “There was a fine for late filing left over from a previous administration. I personally saw to it that fine was paid off. All that was just a misunderstanding.” State Board of Election records confirm Fleming’s account. “They should,” Fleming said. “The BOE got sick and tired of fooling with this at the time.”
All of which has left journalists wondering, like Fleming, why, in the face of such potentially harmful antics, the party has done and said nothing.
“We do not appreciate a rogue group speaking for us and the perpetrators should’ve been dealt with a long time ago, however, some believed that they should be ignored. I disagree,” Wilkins-Daniels said.
The Tribune originally contacted Keever for comment by Facebook on June 27. She replied on June 29 saying, “I don’t check Facebook regularly – especially this week with my grandkids in town.” She gave her direct e-mail address. The Tribune attempted to reach Keever by e-mail on July 6, but she did not reply.