The Congressional Black Caucus has another scandal on its hands relating to the use of their charitable scholarships and nepotism. After the exposure of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s awards to her grandchildren and other family members and her attempts to mislead people about her actions, the CBC promised to audit the program and the use their members make of it. They can add another member to the priority list, according to Politico:
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) awarded three scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to his stepdaughter and wife’s niece between 2003 and 2005, according to records from the non-profit group. …
In 2003, Emmaundia Whitaker, the niece of Vivian Creighton Bishop, who is Bishop’s wife, was awarded an education scholarship. She was also given a similar award in 2005.
And in 2003, Aayesha Owens Reese, the congressman’s stepdaughter, was granted an education scholarship as well.
Bishop offered a different defense than Johnson. He claims that the CBC didn’t make nepotism against the rules until 2008, which means that he had no bar on awarding his stepdaughter and niece the scholarships.
That’s certainly a novel defense, but not likely to convince anyone. The scholarships were publicly intended as charity, a way to impact the community by giving underprivileged students an opportunity to get an education they otherwise may miss. Instead, the two Representatives turned it into an entitlement program for the children and grandchildren of the already-powerful. Regardless of whether the CBC had explicit language barring the awarding of funds to family members, anyone with a sense of ethics would have known that putting that scholarship money into the hands of their own family violated the ostensible spirit of the charity. It also shows Bishop and Johnson as greedy, self-absorbed malefactors whose only consideration of the power they hold is how it can personally benefit themselves and their family.
In Bishop’s case, let’s also not forget that any scholarship money his stepdaughter received meant less money out of Bishop’s own pocket for tuition. That’s only one step removed from just keeping the money for himself.
Clearly the CBC doesn’t do much checking on the handling of its charitable funds. How difficult would it have been to discover that Reese was Bishop’s stepdaughter, anyway? Those people and corporations who donate money to the CBC scholarship fund should rethink their choices in charitable giving.
Update: The Washington Times reprinted my post on Johnson from earlier this week. Be sure to read it and thank them for the recognition.