A second member of the Congressional Black Caucus has acknowledged awarding scholarships to his family members.
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) awarded Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to his stepdaughter, his niece and the future wife of a longtime aide. Although he claims the scholarships were awarded before anti-nepotism rules were in place, he says he will pay back the (so far unspecified) amount to the foundation.
The Bishop story follows that of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), who admitted to awarding some 23 scholarships to her relatives and those of her chief of staff. Johnson has paid $31,000 back to the foundation to replace the scholarships.
The foundation, which gives $10,000 to each member every year to distribute to students in their district, is now asking all of its members to review their records.
“We’ve done a process of an extensive audit,” foundation spokeswoman Muriel Cooper told TPM. Foundation staff, along with the members and their staffs, have been asked to go back and make sure there have been no other instances of nepotism, “to make sure we have the highest degree of transparency.”
“Obviously, the foundation is not going to allow any unethical behavior,” she added. “We will not have any nepotism.”
Cooper said the scholarship program, which has been running for more than 40 years, operates on an “honor system.” She added that they are reviewing the process, even delaying when they send out applications a few months, from November to January, to give themselves extra time.
The scholarship guidelines specify that recipients must not be related to the members, and that they must live in the district of the member who is awarding the money. Johnson was also cited for awarding grants to some people outside of her district, including one from Oklahoma.
The foundation says that they have always barred members from using the scholarships for personal benefit.
It’s yet another ethics hit for the CBC, which has seen members Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) slapped with ethics charges this summer.
A spokesman for the CBC declined to comment.