Documents Show Kevin Johnson’s Coup Effort in Black Mayors’ Group

Kevin Johnson (Noel Vasquez / Getty)
Noel Vasquez / Getty

Despite his best efforts to suppress the evidence, information divulged by thousands of emails suggest that Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson may have used his aides and volunteers to cement a coup in the National Conference of Black Mayors (NCBM).

Johnson had filed a private lawsuit against the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento News & Review to block the release of some emails; but the Sacramento Bee still acquired over 6,100 pages of emails and documents using the Public Records Act that purport to show Johnson’s use of aides and volunteers to take control of the NCBM and grease his connections to Washington, D.C.

Johnson’s aides and volunteers interacted with mayors, the White House and federal agencies. Some of his staffers spent city work hours urging mayors to pay their NCBM dues so they could alter the group’s voting quorum in Johnson’s favor, according to Fox 40.

Johnson served as the president of NCBM from May 2013 to 2014 after joining the group in 2010. The group had suffered financial mismanagement; when Johnson took over, he audited the group, fired executive director Vanessa Williams, sent NCBM into bankruptcy and created the African American Mayors Association to replace it.

Johnson also allegedly used unpaid fellows, interns and volunteers who called themselves his staffers in order to help him achieve his goals with NCBM. Volunteers apparently created an electronic PowerPoint presentation of Johnson’s strategy to stage an “Annual Meeting ‘Coup’” to oust Williams. The presentation reportedly had a title page reading “Office of Mayor Kevin Johnson” with the city of Sacramento seal.

One email from the NCBM from March 2014 reportedly delineated Johnson’s gift of cards to cities that enrolled people in Obamacare. Johnson’s office formed an email group titled “OMKJNCBM”–Office of Mayor Kevin Johnson National Conference of Black Mayors–to get rid of Williams.


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