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Texas Dem Breaks Rules, Gives Scholarships to Relatives

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) Facebook

A Democratic congresswoman from Texas has admitted to inappropriately giving thousands of dollars in college scholarships to four of her own relatives and her top aide's two children, the Dallas Morning News first reported.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson initially denied violating any rules of the scholarship program facilitated by the the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Morning News reports. She later acknowledged violating the rules "unknowingly" and said she would work with the foundation to "rectify the financial situation."

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gives every member of the CBC $10,000 each year to award in scholarships to students in their districts. Members decide for themselves how to distribute the money.

From 2005 to 2008, according to the Morning News, Johnson awarded nine to 11 scholarships a year -- with three or four scholarships each year going to either her relatives or the relatives of her district director, Rod Givens. Those awards violated the scholarship program's anti-nepotism rules, as well as the requirement that recipients live or study within the member's district.

The CBC Foundation's general counsel, Amy Goldson, told the Morning News that those scholarship awards violated eligibility rules and are "of great concern."

Johnson, who is expected to win her 10th term in Congress, told the Morning News that no favoritism was involved, and she "probably wouldn't have given it" to her own relatives had there been more "very worthy applicants in my district."

Other CBC members have come under scrutiny this year, including Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who will both stand trial on ethics charges this fall.

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