While the NAACP has taken a hard stance against Republican Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be attorney general, the group hasn’t always been opposed to the conservative lawmaker.
In fact, in 2009, the NAACP awarded Sessions their “Governmental Award of Excellence.” The award, according to Politico, was discovered when an aide was cleaning out the Alabama senator’s Mobile, Alabama, office in preparation for his move to the Justice Department.
Sessions disclosed receipt of the NAACP award in a questionnaire supplement sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.
“Apparently [NAACP President Cornell Brooks] doesn’t stay in contact with the NAACP chapter in Alabama,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who shared the news on the floor of the Senate, said Tuesday. “Most of the things said about Jeff Sessions and the way he acted as a senator could be said about almost all of us on this side who consider themselves conservative.”
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 7, 2017
Graham has long been a supporter of Sessions’ confirmation to attorney general, and he’s been bold about his criticism of the NAACP, too.
Last month, the South Carolina lawmaker tore into the NAACP, accusing the civil rights organization of having an anti-GOP tilt during a heated confrontation with Brooks, who was speaking out against Sessions during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings about the lawmaker’s nomination.
Making his case against Sessions, Brooks noted the Trump appointee’s 11 percent rating on the NAACP’s legislative report card. Graham, who has a 25 percent rating with the group, slammed Brooks for giving nearly perfect scores to Democrats and slighting Republicans.
“Isn’t it kind of odd that one party gets 100 percent and nobody else does very well on our side?” Graham asked. “I think it’s really odd. I think it — well, it speaks for itself.”
Brooks, alongside members of dozens of other interest groups, held a sit-in last month outside the office of Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), urging him to block Sessions from becoming attorney general, according to USA Today.
“It is the ultimate irony that we are going to have to break the law in order to ensure that we have an attorney general who will enforce the law … most assuredly, the Voting Rights Act,” Brooks said at the time.
The NAACP and Democrats have argued against Sessions, citing concerns over his record on race. In 1986, Sessions, then the 39-year-old U.S. attorney for Alabama, was denied a federal judgeship. He was accused at the time of race-based discrimination.
And one Justice Department lawyer, J. Gerald Herbert, testified at the time that Sessions had described the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired,” according to the Washington Post.
Sessions, for his part, has contested those accusations.
“This caricature of me from 1986 was not correct,” he said last month.
The Senate is expected to confirm Sessions in a party-line vote this week.