>Texas Dem admits steering scholarships towards family and friends

>Looks like another CBC member is in hot water for questionable practices.  

Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson told The Dallas Morning News that she arranged the scholarships over the last four years for two grandsons and two grandnephews and the son and daughter of a Dallas-based aide.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting Johnson has handed out 8 of those scholarships last year, bringing the total number of scholarships handed out since 2005, in violation of the foundation’s rules.

A previously undisclosed list, provided Monday afternoon by the foundation, shows that Johnson’s grandsons Kirk and David Johnson, along with the children of her district director in Dallas, Rod Givens, each received two scholarships last year, under two competitions run by the foundation. Together, the Johnsons and Givenses accounted for half the 16 scholarships the longtime Dallas Democratic lawmaker handed out in 2009 with foundation funds. None of the other eight recipients got more than one scholarship. The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that over the last five years, Johnson has awarded up to $20,000 in scholarships to two grandsons, two great-nephews, and Givens’ children between 2005 and 2008.
It should be noted the congresswoman said she “unknowingly” violated the foundation’s rules and would rectify the situation. Johnson’s admission violates the Foundations anti-nepotism rules, which bars relatives of CBC members from receiving scholarships. It also violates the Foundation’s rules that require recipients must live or study in the district of the CBC member that’s awarding the scholarship. The article goes on to say the revelations could lead to an ethics investigation and the key question would be if Johnson used official resources (Congressional staff) to steer the scholarship awards.

From The Huffington Post article:

An investigation also could look at whether she violated the federal government’s Code of Ethics, which says government officials cannot discriminate unfairly by dispensing special favors or privileges to anyone. The code says officials cannot accept, for themselves or their families, favors or benefits under circumstances that might be construed as influencing performance of official duties.

It should be noted that the 74-year-old wasn’t facing a tough re-election battle in seeking her 10th term in Congress, but her GOP opponent Stephen Broden, a local pastor, is looking to make the admission an issue in his campaign, which he noted Monday on WBAP’s Mark Davis Show.

The extravagance of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the misdeeds of some of its members has been high on the radar of pundits, media folk and regular voters. The looming ethics trials of Reps. Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel have hovered over the CBC like a dark storm cloud, waiting to touch down any minute over the institution. It would be interesting if this would result in another ethics investigation and possible charges. If this leads to yet another CBC member being charged, it also would be interesting to see if other CBC members — or Congressional Democrats at large — will begin applying pressure on these members to resign.