Just how corrupt is the Congressional Black Caucus?
First Charlie Rangel, then Maxine Waters, and now Eddie Bernice Johnson:
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.
Uh-huh. Sure. We’re to believe a Representative who’s been in office for almost 20 years, chaired the CBC, and sat on the board of this foundation didn’t know that giving money to her grandkids and the children of her aide -none of whom lived in the district- violated the rules? That there were no children from poor families in her district who were better qualified? None?
I bet she promised to respect her constituents in the morning, too.
I’ll grant that corruption is a bipartisan problem (Remember Duke Cunningham?), but it does seem the CBC has more than its fair share. (Let’s not forget a former member, William ‘Icebox” Jefferson)
The problem has nothing to do with their ethnicity, of course, and everything to do with a sense of entitlement born of being in DC far too long, in which “public service” becomes “the public serves me.” Combine control over money with a sense of “I make the rules, so I can break them,” and this is what you get: a politician who thinks of herself as a modern day aristocrat, not a public servant.
Corruption, I think, is also more a problem with modern social liberalism, with its emphasis on government solutions by concentrating money and its distribution in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, creating temptation. Again, “If the money is mine to distribute, what does it hurt if a little of it goes to help my own?” Nothing, except for gutting the belief that anyone else outside of the well-connected few has a fair shot at it. To the extent that CBC members are almost all social liberals (at least) and statists, it shouldn’t be surprising that these problems keep showing up among its members.
The solution, of course, is to replace oligarchs like Johnson, Rangel, and Waters with genuine representatives who will treat public money as a public trust, not a private piggy bank. And, while I’ve been opposed to term limits for legislators in principle, this is another in a long series of incidents that’s slowly changing my mind: if the problem is caused in part by being in Washington too long, then perhaps we should limit how long a person can stay there.
LINKS: More from Hot Air. Moe Lane points out that Congresswoman Johnson not only diverted money to her own family, but helped create her own district. An oligarch, indeed. Her opponent in November is the Reverend Stephen Broden. Perhaps we can all help clean up Congress by sending a little money his way.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)