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NAACP and Donald Sterling: How donations can lead to complicated relationships

Jan Crawford reports from Washington, DC, with the civil rights group's explanation
Donald Sterling and the NAACP: Award and donations highlight complex relationship 03:35

When the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP held a press conference Monday, there was one question everybody had for them: Why did Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling deserve a lifetime achievement award?

"Mr. Sterling has given out a tremendous amount of scholarships. His donations to charities probably outnumber any of the other sports entities," Los Angeles chapter president Leon Jenkins said.

However, the chapter said it was withdrawing the honor and planned to return Sterling's money, reports CBS News' political correspondent Jan Crawford.

"I can't think that he was sincere with his donations after you listen to that script and that tape. I mean he doesn't even like black people," said Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP.

The Los Angeles chapter raised eyebrows in 2009 when it gave Donald Sterling his first so-called "lifetime" achievement award. At that point Sterling already had a history of alleged racism, including two different lawsuits claiming discrimination. Yet Sterling also has a lot of money to donate, and that can go a long way.

Sterling has been giving for years, and not just to the NAACP. He's donated millions to other groups advocating for African Americans like the United Negro College Fund and the Black Business Association.

Some see a calculated strategy to bolster his image and deflect criticism over previous episodes of alleged racism. Nicole Neily, a crisis communications consultant, said donors can have ulterior motives.

"There is strategy that goes into: Who do we need to defuse? Are you buying friends? Are you not buying friends? And for big groups, I think it's maybe you're trying to get on their radar, get some access," Neily said.

Just last month Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, under pressure to change his team's name, established a foundation to improve the condition of Native Americans.

Image consultants also point to NFL quarterback Michael Vick who spent nearly two years in jail for running a dog fighting ring. After being released and looking to revive his career, he partnered with The Humane Society.

For Sterling there has been a pay off. He has received numerous honors and also relentlessly promoted his giving, taking out full page ads in local newspapers.

Huffman said her organization will never take his money again.

"I'd like to see him not be a public figure that we have to deal with," Huffman said. "I think he's cooked his own goose, and I just want him to stew in it.

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