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.