A high-ranking official convicted of murder threatened to “fire back” if The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group (TheDCNF) reported that a new branch president for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) embezzled during his tenure at a previous nonprofit.
Gerald Hankerson, president of the Alaska, Oregon and Washington State regional NAACP, told TheDCNF he wasn’t “authorizing” the disclosure because it “strikes a blow to the NAACP by indicating that we allow criminals at the leadership.”
Hankerson himself was sentenced to life in prison for aggravated murder and spent 23 years in prison before being granted leniency because he, in the governor’s words, “accepted full responsibility of his conduct,” but now claims he is innocent.
TheDCNF reported Thursday that the Anchorage, Alaska, branch of the NAACP in November elected Kevin McGee, who had been convicted of using his previous position as president of a government employees union to steal from, as a court document put it, “the very people he was supposed to represent.” In a victim impact statement, the union called McGee “an opportunistic thief who has shown no remorse.”
TheDCNF inquired whether Hankerson’s regional umbrella group, which oversees all the NAACPs in that corner of the country, was aware of the precarious situation, or whether McGee had hoodwinked members.
Hankerson acknowledged that McGee’s election could seem like “hiring a bank robber to run a bank,” but said he knew about McGee’s history in advance and did not have a problem with it. “Why would so many people feel comfortable” electing him if they held it against him? he asked.
In his own case, Hankerson in 2009 successfully petitioned the governor to be released and put on parole. But he still wasn’t happy, arguing it was “problematic” that he had to avoid further violating the law or parole or else return to prison.
So Hankerson later used his new position as an NAACP official to ask for a pardon from the new governor that would removing those restrictions.
In an interview, Hankerson, like McGee, offered conflicting explanations, waffling between saying that he deserved a second chance because he had turned away from a sinful past, and denying personal responsibility, claiming his innocence.
Hankerson has been portrayed as a poster child for “forgiveness” and “redemption,” but he claimed to TheDCNF he “didn’t do it,” citing the successful appeal to the governor’s compassion as evidence. “That’s what a pardon does, bro. That mean I didn’t do it.”
Asked whether Nai Vang Saeturn, the 25-year-old killed as part of a robbery outside a liquor store, would agree that executive action altered the facts, he said “you’re not going to be able to find him.”
Though he has publicly touted bridge-building, he told a reporter whose job is uncovering fraud that he was inspired to be president of the NAACP because of anger at “people like you” and because “they falsely convict black people.”
As for why potential Alaska donors should feel comfortable that their money was in good hands given McGee’s history, and asked how much money McGee was in charge of, Hankerson claimed his NAACP chapters don’t disclose their finances. Told that federal tax law generally requires nonprofits to do so, Hankerson responded by saying “take it up with the IRS.”
Hankerson said it shouldn’t matter what McGee did “20, 30 years ago,” but when reminded that McGee’s conviction was in 2010, said a white person isn’t capable of judging how short or long seven years was.
“For a black man that’s a long time,” he said.
Hankerson reportedly still calls himself “9-0,” a nickname given to him by members of the Crips gang with whom he associated in jail, and railed against a city requirement that officials see evidence that programs local taxpayers fund help the intended beneficiaries.
That money “should be ours,” he said. “We got to create our own s–t.”
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