Congressional Black Caucus

New Chairman of Congressional Black Caucus Legitimizes Possible Ferguson Violence

Butterfield Obama photoAs the nation awaits a decision from a grand jury Ferguson, Mo. about whether they will charge a police officer for shooting and killing black teenager Michael Brown, the new leader of the Congressional Black Caucus has already publicly stated that anything but indictment will not represent justice.

The comments (audio) came as Congressman G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat, assumed the chairmanship of the CBC last week. He expressed his concern in an interview with WUNC in Chapel Hill, a NPR affiliate, when asked about the problem of civil unrest in “places like Ferguson” and what he thought his role was in “moving conversations forward” with regard to race relations.

Rep. Carson Stands By Tea Party/Lynching Remarks

Carson photoRep. Andre Carson (D-IN), the second Muslim to serve in Congress, has created an enormous controversy by following Rep. Maxine Waters' (D-CA) lead and lashing out at the Tea Party and its supporters in Congress.

Carson told a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and some of its supporters last week in Miami that, "some of them in Congress right now, of this Tea Party, would love to see you and me...hanging on a tree." He also stated that some members of Congress would like to see blacks as second-class citizens.

CBC Scholarship Scandal Deepens

Sanford Bishop photoA flurry of documents publicized this week appears to show further corruption within the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s scholarship program.

Letters written by CBC member Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and released by her GOP election opponent this week suggest that the congresswoman was more intimately involved with steering $31,000 in CBC scholarships to family members and associates than she previously admitted. The two letters, sent by Rep. Johnson to the CBC Foundation, ask that the organization send the scholarship money directly to her two grandsons and two grand-nephews instead of to their colleges.

CBC Chair Payne Rips Johnson's ‘Unethical Behavior’ But What About His Own?

Donald Payne photoRep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), issued a statement yesterday in response to the controversy swirling around the awarding of 23 scholarships by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to relatives and associates. The statement read, in part:

Neither the Foundation nor the CBC will allow unethical behavior in the awarding of scholarships or any programs that are designed to benefit the community.

Also:

I will not allow the absence of integrity to invade the Foundation nor the scholarship program…

Payne had nothing to say about his participation in a 2008 Caribbean junket that he knew was funded by big companies like Citigroup in violation of House Rules.

Rep. Johnson Gave 23 Scholarships to Relatives and Associates

Eddie Bernice Johnson photoCongressional Black Caucus member Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) has admitted to steering 23 scholarships worth over $25,000 to two grandchildren, two great nephews and the children of a top aide over the past four years.

The scholarships came from a non-profit affiliate of the CBC called the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which Rep. Johnson sat on the board of from 2005 to 2008. The Texas congresswoman’s family members and aides’ children were considered ineligible for the scholarships under the foundation’s anti-nepotism rules.

Speaker Pelosi Open to Reducing Power of House Ethics Board

Pelosi and Clyburn photoHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has signified that she’s open to reigning in the power of an independent congressional ethics board, even though she urged the creation of the board in 2008, reported The Hill.

Two years ago, House Speaker Pelosi strongly backed the establishment of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), a bipartisan board made up of private citizens, saying that it would “bring an additional measure of transparency to the ethics enforcement process.” But at a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus – a group which wants to "reform" the OCE – Pelosi and House Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), in photo, reportedly indicated that they were willing to reconsider changing some of the OCE’s rules.

Congressional Black Caucus Asks Congress to Restrict Power of Ethics Board

OCE door photoMembers of the Congressional Black Caucus have asked the House to curtail the power of a congressional ethics board, after multiple members of the caucus have come under investigation by the board over the past year.

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) introduced legislation at the end of May, which was co-sponsored by 19 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The bill would restrict the Office of Congressional Ethics -- which is a bipartisan board staffed solely with private citizens -- from releasing the results of its investigations in cases that the House Ethics Committee decides have no merit. The OCE would also be barred from initiating investigations of its own, and would instead have to wait for a complaint to be filed by a citizen with intimate knowledge of the alleged malfeasance.

Is Rangel Detached From Reality?

Rangel photoSteven T. Dennis of CQ-Roll Call interviewed former House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) last week and reports:

The veteran New York Democrat still wants his Ways and Means chairmanship back, but he doesn't want reporters to write that he's planning to fight for it. He wants and needs the ethics committee to clear his name, but he feels it already sandbagged him with an unjustified admonishment that appears nowhere in House rules and gave him no chance to challenge the finding.

Rangel “temporarily” stepped down from his Chairmanship on March 3, the same way that Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) “temporarily” resigned as ranking member on the Ethics Committee in 2006. Mollohan did not come back and neither will Rangel.

Lawyers, 'Black Farmers' Shake Down Taxpayers

ShakedownBlacks account for about 1.5 percent of all farm operators in this country - and apparently a lot higher share of the civil rights lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). On February 18, lawyers for the USDA and thousands of black farmers reached a $1.25 billion class-action agreement resolving, for now, claims that the department had engaged in willful racial discrimination in managing its loan and other aid programs.  Think you've seen this headline before? You have. Back in 1999, black farmers, armed with similar claims of racial bias, snagged a federal guarantee of $50,000 per plaintiff plus loan forgiveness and tax liability offsets.

Black and Hispanic Broadcasters, Congressmen Seek Bailout

Maxine Waters photoRadio and television broadcasters - at least those catering to black and Hispanic audiences - soon may join financial services and auto manufacturers as the beneficiaries of a federal bailout. For the last half year, a group of executives of minority-themed media enterprises have been lobbying Capitol Hill to provide a boost to their money-losing operations. Having natural allies in the black and Hispanic congressional caucuses, they may win additional support from the Obama administration and any number of white lawmakers eager to expand their base of support. As it is, one of its key members already may have coaxed a loan modification from a financial giant.

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