Another day, another Democratic Congressional scandal.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) has admitted steering $25,000 in Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) scholarships to relatives in violation of anti-nepotism rules and in-district school or residency requirements.
The foundation receives millions in corporate contributions each year, and Congressional Black Caucus members are allowed to allot $10,000 each year in scholarships to recipients in their districts.
The Dallas Morning News reports CBCF scholarships under Johnson’s control were awarded to two grandsons, two great-nephews and to the children of an aide Rod Givens.
Johnson says she didn’t know granting the scholarships to relatives was against the rules.
From the report:
In her statement Monday night, Johnson said that from now on, she will use a “nonbiased third party objective review committee to evaluate applications” for scholarships.
She emphasized that she is the only Democratic member of Congress in the Dallas area. “Much of my district office casework benefits people outside my constituency,” she said.
In 2009, Johnson picked 12 students to split $10,000 from two scholarship programs, according to foundation records released Monday. Eight students got one scholarship. The four other students — the congresswoman’s grandsons, Kirk and David Johnson, and her staffer’s son and daughter, Julian and Mariyah Givens — got two apiece.
Jan Baran, a top Republican ethics lawyer in Washington, told the Dallas Morning News that the awards could amount to fraud, “given that the applicants and those selecting the winners should have known about the eligibility rules.”
“If you make factual misrepresentations to obtain money it’s usually a form of fraud, either civil or criminal, where you’re trying to take possession of money under false pretenses,” Baran said. “The question is, who committed the fraud.”
Applicants are required to sign forms affirming they have no connections to the CBCF, stating they are not related to a caucus member or foundation employees.
Charity experts said in the report that the foundation would run afoul of tax laws if it allowed lawmakers to steer money to relatives.
Much more at the link.