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Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson's dumb scholarship awards

Beware members of Congress in safe districts. More often than not, they end up wrapping themselves in the corrupting cloak of entitlement. My favorite, as you probably know, is Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). If you didn’t, just click here to get the quick debrief. But the gold in gall might have to go to eight-term Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) -- for now.

According to the Dallas Morning News, which broke the story, between 2005 and 2009, Johnson awarded scholarships totaling $25,000 to two of her grandchildren, two of her great-nephews and the two children of a top aide. The money came from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a non-profit entity that operates separately from the Congressional Black Caucus but gives $10,000 a year to CBC members to hand out to eligible college applicants. And the rules are clear that said applicants cannot be related to or connected in any way to the foundation, its staff, sponsors or board of directors, or members of the CBC.

Get a load of this rich response from Johnson when asked last week about the scholarships by the Dallas Morning News.

"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.

Let them eat cake and all that. But her attitude surely changed after the chairman of the CBC Foundation, Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) slammed her actions as “self-dealing” and “unethical.” Johnson now says she “unknowingly” broke the rules and will reimburse the foundation for the scholarships. How nice. I wonder where THAT money is going to come from.

By Jonathan Capehart  | September 1, 2010; 1:59 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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There are really no words adequate to describe that kind of stupidity! The congresswoman is guilty of the worst kind of cronyism.

Posted by: | September 1, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

As appalling as this is, it's just the tip of the iceberg for this very corrupt legislator. For the entire duration of her Congressional tenure, she has held substantial, highly-profitable interests in numerous retail concessions at the two commercial airports serving her district: DFW Airport and Love Field.

See here:


Posted by: UptownDallas | September 1, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Representative Johnson,

As one of the thousands of college students living and studying in the 30th Congressional District of Texas, (to which I say you can no longer claim to "represent"), I am personally offended and appalled at your arrogant declaration of my lesser than deserving scholarship status.

I want you to know me before you judge my qualification for scholarship.

(1.) I am a multiply-handicapped, Social Security Disability recipient, living on a fixed income of $723 monthly.

(2.) I am a registered voter, volunteer voter registrar, life-long "Yellow-dog Democrat", who both volunteered on your last two primary campaigns, and your last general election, along with GOTV efforts for said elections.

(3.) For each of the last three school years, I resided in and attended college in the 30th Congressional District of Texas.

(4.) I am an adult student living on my own, paying my own incidental fees and supplies for my studies, and solely responsible for repayment of the student loans required for me to attend college.

(5.) I have consistently maintained a 3.75 GPA, despite vision and hearing impairments, a lifelong learning disability, and mobility impairment.

(6.) Despite being chronically and multiply disabled, and certified as lifetime disabled under Social Security Disability guidelines, I have worked hard to educate myself, so that I could return to the tax-generating workforce; thereby exiting the Social Security, Medicare, and other public-assistance rolls.

(7.) By my own calculations, the scholarship funds that you and your staff fraudulently disbursed to your co-conspirators, (were I deemed so worthy in your blinded eyes to have received) would have allowed me to use my limited personal funds to pay for my much needed dentures, that I have no way to pay for at this time.

"Representative" Johnson, there is no excuse for your fraudulent and self-serving actions; and no amount of apology short of your immediate resignation that will suffice. You, your complicit staff, and your complicit offspring should be prosecuted under the same laws that you helped create... and nothing less.

The saddest part of your crime is that given the communities and demographics that make up the 30th Congressional District of Texas, there are likely hundreds, if not thousands of students in situations like mine... and yet in your eyes we are summarily less than "deserving" of equal rights and equal opportunity.

Eddie Bernice Johnson, have you no shame in your soul? No sense of humanity? Your pompous and self-serving actions have sunk you to the level of your former colleague William Jefferson of Louisiana. Whether the ill-gotten gains landed in your deep freeze or that of your relatives, it is still RICO acts that we are talking about. Twenty-five thousand dollars or ninety thousand dollars... felony is felony. Sixty-three years old (Jefferson) or Seventy-three (Johnson)... 13 years in federal prison sounds about right to me.

Posted by: AStudentinTX-30 | September 1, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

How refreshing that she recognized the names of her own grandchildren. So, now she is pleading ignorance of the rules by "unknowingly" awarding these scholarships.

The foundation should cut her off completely and permanently.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | September 1, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

She knew she was doing wrong from the start. Why the compassion now? Lets get her a cell space near Congressman Jefferson and Bernie Madoff. She is Felony Stupid and there is no law against that but she was told by others this was illegal.

Posted by: npsilver | September 1, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Using my money to help out her relatives is far worse than unethical!

We need to throw out the ruling elites. As long as the ruling elites stay, this behavior will continue.

Posted by: concernedcitizen3 | September 1, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

If politicians aren't corrupt before they reach Washington, they're certainly corrupted once there.

I welcome these stories. It further de-legitimizes government.

Posted by: happyacres | September 2, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Dumb? How about dishonest, sleazey and corrupt.

Posted by: twann9852 | September 2, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

It is clear that the Congressional Black Caucus is totally corrupt. Rangell, Waters, Johnson. Who is next?

Posted by: bnichols6 | September 2, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

In 1873 Mark Twain wrote "There is no native criminal class except for Congress." Nothing has changed.

Posted by: jeffreed | September 2, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Living as I do on the outskirts of Dallas I have watched with great interest as a once great city self-destructs. Dallas is fast on its way down the path trodden by cities such as Detroit, MI. The city government, predomently liberal for the past 13 years I have lived here continues to spend itself into ruin with a combination of entitlement programs and unneeded and unwanted "nice-to-haves" while the infrastructure crumbles. Rep. Johnson is just one of many of the corrupt practices that have been revealed in Dallas over the past two years. City council members using their position with developers to make their fortune was the last and continuing saga. I am sure there are other cities undergoing the same crisis but until we rid ourselves of long-term, self-serving "professional" politicians we will be faced with those that are corrupted by their power and need for self enrichment using thier influence. Hopefully she will be relieved of her postion and replaced by a citizen who wants to serve the people and then quickly return home to their real job.

Posted by: staterighter | September 2, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

There is no more sure sign that things are changing when members of the CBC -- the biggest Special Interest Group in Congress -- begins to criticize their own members for unethical behavior. Unfortunately, this criticism is unlikely to continue whether the majority in Congress changes or not.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | September 2, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

There is no more sure sign that things are changing when members of the CBC -- the biggest Special Interest Group in Congress -- begins to criticize their own members for unethical behavior. Unfortunately, this criticism is unlikely to continue whether the majority in Congress changes or not.

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | September 2, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

We should help retire Eddie Bernice Johnson. Give a little money to her opponent this Fall - Stephen Broden, at

Posted by: MBrown77 | September 2, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

She gave money illegally to her own family members but it doesn't matter. She'll get a testy letter from someone in authority and then that will be that. She will not be charged with anything, and the wheels of incompetance, nepotism, illegality, cronyism, and downright fraud, will continue to turn. Wheels greased with the blood, sweat and tears of the taxpayer.

If the people in her district reelect her, they deserve what they get.

Posted by: Geepers1 | September 5, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

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