Longtime Dallas congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has awarded thousands of dollars in college scholarships to four relatives and a top aide's two children since 2005, using foundation funds set aside for black lawmakers' causes.
The recipients were ineligible under anti-nepotism rules of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which provided the money. And all of the awards violated a foundation requirement that scholarship winners live or study in a caucus member's district.
Johnson, a Democrat, denied any favoritism when asked about the scholarships last week. Two days later, she acknowledged in a statement released by her office that she had violated the rules but said she had done so "unknowingly" and would work with the foundation to "rectify the financial situation."
Initially, she said, "I recognized the names when I saw them. And I knew that they had a need just like any other kid that would apply for one." Had there been more "very worthy applicants in my district," she added, "then I probably wouldn't have given it" to the relatives.
Johnson is a wealthy woman who represents the worst inner city ghettos of Dallas. Nonetheless, she awarded college scholarships to friends and relatives living outside her district. Johnson claims her relatives "had a need just like any other kid", and she couldn't find enough "worthy applicants in [her] district".
In fact, she ripped off the poorest of the poor in her own community for the benefit of her wealthy family and friends.
Unfortunately, judging by the handling of such charges by fellow caucus members Rangel and Waters, we can expect charges of racism, as her victims rally to her defense and prosecutors are intimidated.