Bishop No Saint on CBC Nepotism Scholarships

September 10, 2010

Bishop No Saint on CBC Nepotism Scholarships
Two Prominent Dems Now Accused of Breaking Rules to Steer Scholarships to Family Members
SPIN CYCLE: Pelosi Once Promised to ‘Drain the Swamp’ and Sweep Corruption out of Washington

“‘Drain the swamp’ means to turn this Congress into the most honest and open Congress in history. That’s my pledge — that is what I intend to do,’ Pelosi stated in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams.” (Brian Williams, “Rep. Pelosi poised to make history”, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, 11/08/2006)

RINSE CYCLE: Two Prominent Dems Break Rules and Steer Scholarship Money to Family Members

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.

Bishop is the second Democrat found to have funneled Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarship funds to relatives, threatening to turn the program into a larger political problem for the party. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) recently paid back $31,000 to the foundation for scholarships that she improperly awarded to various relatives and children of a top staffer.

Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), chairman of the CBC Foundation, has promised an “extensive audit of the scholarship program” run by the organization.

Bishop, though, also appears to have favored family members with CBC scholarships.

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 is the second prominent CBC member found to have steered CBC Foundation scholarships to family members or relatives of top aides.

Johnson (D-Texas) repaid $31,000 to the foundation last week after the Dallas Morning News reported that she had steered 23 scholarships to relatives and the children of a top staffer.

Melanie Sloan, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, said Bishop and Johnson were engaged in “reprehensible conduct.”

“Any member of Congress should know that if there is a chance to award scholarship money, it shouldn’t go to family members,” Sloan said.

Bishop was also caught up in a scandal in 2009 when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation began a probe into whether a youth program operated by Muscogee County Marshal’s Office improperly spent federal funds after it hired Bishop’s stepdaughter and her husband. Bishop had earmarked more than $190,000 for that youth program.

Reese and her husband, Stephen, were paid more than $14,000 by that program, although they lived in the Atlanta area, more than 100 miles from Columbus, where the program operated. (John Bresnahan, “Bishop steered scholarships to family,” Politico, 9/09/2010)

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