A 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.
By any reasonable standard, Reverend Al Sharpton is the most powerful black civil-rights leader in New York City, if not the entire nation. So why are the finances of his nearly two-decade-old nonprofit organization, National Action Network (NAN), in such apparent shambles? A number of people, including the IRS, a prominent New York accounting firm and the management of Memphis' finest hotel, would like to know. Ironically, the group's troubles, highlighted in a recent investigative report appearing in the New York Post, have occurred despite an infusion of more than $100,000 from a philanthropy driven by one of America's richest men. One dreads to think what the federal deficit would look like today had Sharpton been elected president in 2004.
Yet, inside the Beltway, it’s business as usual. The Obama Administration plans to award the company a sweetheart, no-bid contract for satellite imagery and access to classified data. After protests, the Administration backtracks, allowing other companies to bid, but still intends to award the contract to the company. According to industry sources the total spending in that segment on intelligence outsourcing in 2009 was $161 billion. This is no small contract.
Barack Obama, like any Democratic president, has serious IOUs to labor unions. And AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, more than any other labor leader, is one ally he can't afford to alienate. About the last thing Obama wants, especially as his party faces heavy losses in congressional elections this November, is the subject of Trumka's lengthy track record of aggression and corruption to come up. Major media, for the most part, have obliged him in the wake of the round of speeches yesterday at the Milwaukee Area Labor Council Laborfest, making little or mention of inconvenient facts. It isn't as if Obama or top members of his administration are complaining.
Rep. 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.
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.
Congressional 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.
It's been a week since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation swept away ShoreBank's bad assets (cost: $367.7 million), changed its name to Urban Partnership Bank, and left it largely in the hands of the same people (and investors) who ran it before. Since then there have been several articles that called the process and new arrangement "unusual." I guess institutions loved by two presidents call for special treatment.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is a case of "too big to fail." At least various members of Congress see it that way. And they are planning a push for legislation designed to shore up underfunded multiemployer private-sector pension funds, but which would put taxpayers on the hook for billions, if not tens of billions, of dollars over the long term. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., and Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and Patrick Tiberi, R-Ohio, the driving forces behind this measure, seek to shift the primary responsibility of keeping pensions adequately funded from unions and unionized employers to the general public. It's another example of the bailout culture in action.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski appears to be slightly behind Joe Miller, her primary challenger. AP reports that 16,000 absentee ballots were cast and will not be counted until August 31, so the winner may not be known for some time.
NLPC has been a critic of Murkowski and her relationship with associates of corrupt Alaska Republicans like the late Ted Stevens. On July 26, 2007 Murkowski announced that she would sell back an undeveloped piece of land that she purchased in 2006, one day after NLPC filed a Complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee alleging a “sweetheart deal.”
Among other things, it looks like the Chicago lobbying to save ShoreBank paid off. Earlier this month I discovered a letter sent by Windy City power player and big Democrat donor Lester McKeever, Jr., to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, which urged his intervention. "It is my hope," McKeever wrote, "and one shared by others who care deeply about its most vulnerable communities, that the ShoreBank recapitalization plan with investment coming from the U.S. Treasury will enable it to continue servicing its customers and fulfilling its mission."