So. We have a legislator named Eddie Bernice Johnson (D, TX-30), member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and thus one of the people whose responsibility it is to hand out partial college scholarships to worthy recipients. A worthy project, to be sure: good policy, good politics, good publicity. There is – sensibly – a non-nepotism rule; and there is – also sensibly – a rule that this money is to be given to students in your district. But there is apparently no oversight at all over who gets the money, which is why Rep. Johnson was able to use this money gave 15 scholarships to six ineligible kids – four grandchildren and two kids of an aide – and none of them live in the district. Important point, there: even if grandchildren and children of aides don’t count under the anti-nepotism rule (an argument which the CBC itself rejects), the point of the whole thing is to foster local education. Rep. Johnson’s defense? She’s a nine-term Congresswoman who somehow missed the fact that she wasn’t supposed to give CBC scholarships to out-of-district family members.
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.
TX-30 is a majority-minority district incorporating large parts of the African-American and Latino sections of Dallas, TX. That Rep. Johnson’s ‘defense’ rests on her inability to find six students from that area who were more qualified for scholarship money than her own grandchildren speaks ill of either her ability to serve her district, or else of her skill in coming up with a solid, believable lie. Either way, there are still some Texas kids out there who could have used this money, and were denied it.
Please remember this when Rep. Johnson is defended – and she will be. They’ll talk about her relative lack of personal wealth; they’ll talk about how she at least didn’t actually steal the money; they’ll talk about the relatively small amounts involved; they’ll talk about the need of those kids for those scholarships; and they’ll undoubtedly call people racists for even broaching the subject of yet another member of the CBC who’s involved in shenanigans. What they won’t do is admit that Rep. Johnson has no right to be defended. She was given money dedicated to bettering the lives of her constituents. She instead used it to better the lives of her family and subordinates.
Was that why she helped create the district in the first place?
PS: We have a candidate in that district, actually: Rev. Stephen Broden. He was at Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally, in fact – and if that name isn’t an omen, then I don’t know what is.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.