A decision on whether to name Dr. Ben Chavis as the new head of the North Carolina Democratic Party has been put on hold because of criticisms of his controversial past.
North Carolina Democratic Chairman Randy Voller was said to have decided on Chavis earlier in the week, and was set to announce his selection Wednesday. But a series of news articles detailing Chavis's past has stalled that decision, at least temporarily.
The Charlotte Observer reported that, in addition to having served time in prison, Chavis has also been the subject of accusations about inappropriate conduct in the workplace:
Benjamin Chavis Muhammad is a long time civil rights advocate who was jailed for four years in 1970s as a member of the Wilmington 10, a group convicted but later cleared in a fire bombing that spurred a race riot in the city.
He became leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1993 but served less than 17 months after being ousted for striking a secret deal to pay an employee $332,400 to settle her sexual harassment claim.
Chavis, an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, later converted to Islam, taking the name Benjamin Muhammed. In 1997, he became second-in-command to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, leading the organization’s East Coast ministry, according to reports at the time.
Three years later, a woman connected to the Nation of Islam alleged in a lawsuit he sexually harassed her. It was settled in 2006, and the woman received $135,000 from the temple. Chavis did not pay any sum to settle the case, and he made no admission of liability.