Credit the Dallas Morning News for its determination to get to the bottom of the scandal surrounding Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas Democrat, and the nepotism of her Congressional Black Caucus scholarship awards. After the Morning News exposed the fact that Mrs. Johnson had broken the rules set out by the caucus barring relatives from receiving scholarships, Mrs. Johnson attempted to parry that charge by claiming she had nothing to do with selecting the recipients and had left that to aides. According to letters obtained by the paper, however, Mrs. Johnson was not only involved in the decision to give the money to her family members, she also personally intervened to make sure they received the cash instead of their schools:
“Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson apparently asked the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to send scholarship checks directly to her two grandsons and two great-nephews, rather than to their colleges.
“Johnson has insisted repeatedly that she left scholarship decisions to aides.
“But two letters she sent the foundation from 2006 undermine claims that she wasn’t involved in obtaining $31,000 for her relatives and two other ineligible recipients.”
D’oh! Never leave a paper trail, Mrs. Johnson. Enterprising reporters like Todd J. Gillman and Christy Hoppe will come along eventually to follow the money back to its source - or, in this case, her Republican challenger, Stephen Broden, who received documents on the issue in the mail. Not only did Mrs. Johnson sign the letters, she sent them from her Dallas office fax machine and on House letterhead. That may be enough to get the House Ethics Committee interested in Mrs. Johnson’s attempt to fund her grandchildren’s education through a charity dodge.
This also should shine a spotlight on the Congressional Black Caucus. Didn’t anyone think it odd to get a request to redirect scholarship money from the school to the student? The checks already had been sent out to Texas Christian University, the school Mrs. Johnson’s grandchildren were attending. Mrs. Johnson’s letter noted that she had enclosed those originals and requested that they be rewritten to be paid to the students individually. Usually, although not always, charity scholarships get paid to the schools, which then apply them to the tuition and expenses of the individual students rather than to the students themselves.
Mrs. Johnson was a lot more involved in these decisions than she admitted. In fact, it appears that Mrs. Johnson has been lying about this from the moment it got reported by the Morning News and picked up around the country. Her constituents deserve better.
Ed Morrissey blogs for HotAir.com, where a version of this article first appeared.
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