Local NAACP leader Minister Rodney Muhammad told the Philadelphia Tribune last week there is nothing to hide and no blurring of the lines regarding his $25,000 payment from Mayor Jim Kenney’s office for consulting work and his role in helping the mayor get re-elected.
That’s not true.
There is a serious blurring of the lines and there has been a lack of transparency by Muhammad with the city’s African American community.
Muhammad is a paid consultant for Kenney’s political action committee. The reason we know this is through news reports.
“Earlier this month, a report surfaced in the Philadelphia Inquirer that Muhammd had been paid $25,000 through Kenney’s political action committee since April of this year,” reports the Tribune’s John Mitchell on Oct. 27. “What added to the suspicion was that the check was made out to a Rodney Carpenter, not Rodney Muhammad. The two are one and the same.”
On Tribune correspondent Charles Ellison’s Reality Check podcast on WURD, Muhammad acknowledged the $25,000 payment was for his work to get Mayor Kenney re-elected.
Here’s the problem: Muhammad did not publicly disclose his relationship with the mayor’s political action committee until after it was reported in the news.
Here’s another problem: Muhammad has been a vocal supporter of the soda tax, passed in January, which added 1.5 cents per ounce to the cost of sugary and diet drinks. The purpose of the tax is to increase revenue to fund universal pre-kindergarten education, community schools, parks, recreation centers and libraries.
Muhammad says he supported the soda tax but again, he says not as a member of the NAACP. Muhammad partnered last year with Philadelphians for a Fair Future, a group that lobbied for the tax.
Somehow Muhammad believes or wants the public to believe that he is not “blurring the lines.” Does he really believe that the public will separate his advocacy for the mayor and his initiatives from his role as president of the local chapter of the NAACP?
What is truly astonishing is Muhammad’s response to questions about his conflicting interest of serving both as the local leader of the NAACP and being a paid advocate for the mayor.
“I wonder what some people expect of me and how they expect me to make a living,” Muhammad said. “It might appear to be an uncomfortable arrangement, but I am entitled to make a living.”
An “uncomfortable arrangement,” is such a gross understatement it is insulting.
Minister Muhammad: When are you serving the mayor’s interest and when are you serving the NAACP? The two interests will not always be one and the same.
Muhammad needs to admit that he is was wrong and make a choice between serving the mayor or the NAACP.