Shortly after a scandal erupted in Portland over allegations that Mayor Sam Adams had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a teen his director of communications, Wade Nkrumah, resigned. Adams told KATU that Nkrumah resigned because the job had been too stressful for Nkrumah but Willamatte Week reported shortly thereafter that Nkrumah had really resigned because he didn't believe Adams was being truthful.
Willamette Week now reports on a new development in the saga:
Wade Nkrumah, who resigned as Mayor Sam Adams’ spokesman in January, has filed a notice of tort claim (PDF) against the mayor and the City of Portland alleging Adams “damaged his business reputation” when he told KATU that Nkrumah resigned because the job was “not what he signed up for in terms of stress.”
Nkrumah, a former long-time reporter for The Oregonian, is seeking more than $162,000 in his claim along with attorney’s fees.
The paperwork filed May 14 by Nkrumah’s attorney Michael Hanlon, puts the city on notice that Nkrumah intends to file a claim. In that notice, Nkrumah says he resigned from the spokesman’s job Jan. 26, telling Adams both in a letter and in person that the reason for the resignation was that the mayor had lied to him twice about Adams’ relationship with Beau Breedlove.
Nkrumah says the first lie came in the Jan. 15 interview WWhad with Adams in the presence of Nkrumah and Adams staffer Amy Ruiz when Adams denied any “sexual contact” or “sexual relationship of any kind” with Beau Breedlove.
Nkrumah says a second lie came in a meeting Adams had on Jan. 22attended by 20-plus staffers at the home of chief of staff Tom Miller. Nkrumah says he asked Adams at that meeting if there had been any “flirting” or “touching” before Breedlove turned 18.
“Adams answered unequivocally no,” Nkrumah says in the claim, noting that Adams’ answer was contradicted by subsequent news stories that quoted Breedlove saying he and the mayor had kissed twice when Breedlove was 17, once in a City Hall bathroom.
Nkrumah’s claim goes on to say that Adams was “extremely nervous” at his Jan. 26 meeting with him about what Nkrumah would say publicly about his resignation. Nkrumah says Miller and he agreed later that Nkrumah would respond to all inquiries about the resignation with a “no comment” and that Miller would say he does “not comment on personnel matters.”
While Nkrumah did not go public with his concerns he did meet with representatives of the Oregon Attorney General's office investigating Adam's relationship.
As a reporter for The Oregonian, Wade Nkrumah covered homelessness and neighborhood issues. From the early 1990's until he left the paper for the mayor's office he was my central contact with the paper. We developed a professional relationship and a genuine friendship. Friendships often develop between reporters and subjects / sources. That friendship never meant that he wrote what I wanted. In fact, he often ignored story ideas that I suggested and when I left Portland for St. Louis to attend seminary and he was assigned to write a profile of me he included negative comments on my work from then-Mayor Vera Katz and others. Wade is a friend but first he is a professional.
And so when Adams made his comments about Nkrumah to KATU I knew right away that Adams was acting in a Nixon-like manner in an effort to discredit his former staffer. Adams just couldn't deal with the fact that he'd made the mistake of hiring someone with such solid ethics that he would quit his job during a difficult time to find work rather than continue working for someone who could never trust the people of Portland with the truth. I didn't say anything at the time to defend Wade (besides leaving a message on his Facebook page) because I knew he didn't want to get dragged anymore than he already had into the Sam Adams mess. But now that this information is public (Wade did not tell me about the lawsuit...I found out reading the WW website) I can testify to the honor and integrity of this man. Portland could benefit from more people like Wade Nkrumah in the media and politics.