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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Nov 2006
    TEXAS - The Lone Star State

    Eddie Bernice Johnson says chief of staff reviewed scholarsh

    Eddie Bernice Johnson says chief of staff reviewed scholarship applications

    Dallas Democrat also says she's 'not blaming anybody but myself'

    09:24 AM CDT on Friday, September 3, 2010
    By TODD J. GILLMAN / The Dallas Morning News
    WASHINGTON – Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson offered a new line of defense late Thursday, blaming her chief of staff for failing to adhere to Congressional Black Caucus Foundation rules that would have precluded her from awarding college aid to her relatives and those of another top staffer.

    Stephen Broden, Johnson's Republican challenger in U.S. House District 30, says the congresswoman responded to the 2007 application by telling the student that funds weren't available. (DMN - Video/editing: Nathan Hunsinger)

    "It's a minor part of what we do," she said, adding that she is too busy to review scholarship applications personally. "They go right to my chief of staff. I have not dwelled on figuring out how to give my grandchildren $1,000 a year."

    The CNN appearance came on the day Johnson broke an eight-day silence on the scholarships, launching a public-relations offensive that began on a Dallas radio station.

    "I never heard the rules even discussed," she told KRLD-AM (1080). When she did finally see the rules, she asserted, "they were really very ambiguous."

    Johnson's chief of staff, Murat Gokcigdem, declined to respond to his boss's CNN comment late Thursday.

    Foundation officials say nepotism rules and residency requirements have been in place all along. Applicants, they noted, must attest that they aren't related to anyone involved in selecting winners or running the program, including members of the caucus and their aides.

    Also Online Johnson: 'I never heard the rules' on scholarships

    Johnson repays scholarships

    Johnson's letter to DMN

    Full coverage: Eddie Bernice Johnson
    And, as a former board member of the foundation, Johnson was bound by federal tax rules that prohibit self-dealing by current and former charity officials, according to philanthropy experts.

    On CNN, Johnson insisted that "I know that my grandkids didn't do this intentionally."

    "I've had no conversations about lying. I don't consider them having lied. I don't know if they've even seen those forms," she said, though as Cooper noted, it made little sense that applicants never saw forms they had to fill out, sign and submit.

    In any case, Johnson asserted, it is now impossible for her to determine what was on those forms because "the records are missing from my office. We've looked for them. They're not there."

    Even as she pinned the rule violations on underlings, Johnson also asserted that "I'm not blaming anybody but myself. I'm taking full responsibility, and I am moving forward."

    Throughout the day, she insisted that she was unaware of the foundation's rules on nepotism and residency in a district represented by a black caucus member.

    Her Republican opponent called for a House ethics investigation Thursday. Stephen Broden, who has accused Johnson of corruption, also stepped up his pressure by demanding the release of records pertaining to the tainted scholarships, and by accusing her of failing to publicize the scholarships, to make it easier to award funds to relatives.

    Johnson denied the allegations.

    "If I had known this was against the law I wouldn't have done it," the Dallas Democrat told WFAA-TV (Channel , as she began trying to rebuild her image after days of scrutiny of $31,000 in scholarships she awarded in violation of nepotism and residency rules. "I did not have an ethical alarm go off."

    No help in letter

    Also Thursday, a resident of Johnson's South Dallas district complained that when someone asked the congresswoman's office for advice on where to find money for college on her behalf, Johnson, in a letter, never mentioned the scholarship competition.

    "She could've given that money to many other students, not just myself, and helped them out," said Davetta Carter, now 21 and a cashier at Staples.

    A graduate of A. Maceo Smith High School, Carter quit Stephen F. Austin State University after two years when she ran out of money. Johnson's misuse of the scholarships, she said, "hurt a lot of people."

    Since Sunday, The Dallas Morning News has reported that 23 of the scholarships Johnson awarded since 2005 – more than a third – went to two grandsons from Austin, two great-nephews from Plano, and two children of her top aide in Dallas, who lived in Mesquite.

    She repaid $31,000 on Wednesday to the foundation, which gets its funds from hundreds of corporate and individual donors. Foundation officials have denounced the nine-term lawmaker for "self-dealing" and a lack of integrity.

    Issue with report

    Johnson took issue with that on KRLD, accusing The News of exaggerating the missteps in a way that would lead foundation leaders to "rush to that judgment."

    "This reporter has been trying to find something negative on me for a long, long time, and it was exaggerated," she said. She also alleged that "a fired employee" had leaked damaging information to The News.

    "They made a big story out of it. I'm sorry about it. I'm sorry it happened. But if I had known that I was wrong, it would not have happened. But more than that, this employee that was fired would have never even known about it, but he took the records out of the office and fed it to the person that everybody knew didn't like me," she said.

    She had no specific examples of times The News has targeted her unfairly.

    The News confirmed the details of the scholarship awards through the foundation's annual reports, which are available online. The News also established the relationships between winners and either Johnson or her aide before confronting Johnson last week.

    Johnson chaired the black caucus in 2002 and served on the foundation's board from 2002 to 2005.

    Response questioned

    Critics say it's implausible that only a dozen or so students from her district would apply each year, had she taken adequate steps to publicize the opportunity.

    Broden, at a news conference in Dallas, distributed a letter sent to Johnson in October 2007 by a Republican activist in Dallas, Ray Huebner. He asked her to help identify sources of financial aid for Carter, an outstanding A. Maceo Smith student he had met through her volunteer work at the Dallas VA Medical Center.

    Johnson wrote back, advising that Carter should explore resources with her school counselor. The letter makes no mention of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarship program or any other.

    "While I appreciate the opportunity to financially contribute to this very worthy mission, I must unfortunately decline your request," she wrote. "As you can imagine, I receive many requests for financial support and it is impossible to contribute to all worthy endeavors."

    Said Broden: "At a minimum, she should have said these funds are available, have her apply."

    Johnson said on WFAA that she publicized the scholarships widely – at seminars for students and parents, and in conversations with constituents. Her staff routinely guides constituents to sources of financial aid, she added.

    She maintained that no deserving and qualified student missed out on tuition assistance because of the scholarships she gave to relatives. And she told WFAA that at no time did any of her aides raise questions about the propriety of granting scholarships to relatives.

    "Not to me," she said, adding that no one ever resisted signing off on the paperwork. "I don't know that anyone who works for me was ever asked to sign off."

    She predicted that voters in her district will forgive her.

    "They know my work. They know my heart. And they know that I will do whatever I can to help young people and older people in my district. So the people that know me, I feel that I will keep their support."

    Staff writers Taryn Luna in Dallas and Melanie Mason in Washington contributed to this report. ... c7d24.html

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    The CNN appearance came on the day Johnson broke an eight-day silence on the scholarships, launching a public-relations offensive that began on a Dallas radio station.
    I her public-relations offensive is essentially blame someone else and play stupid until the heat's off your @$$!

    What a corrupted piece of <self mod>!
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  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Dallas is so corrupt! I remember from the day I started watching the news when I was 5, and there was always corruption in Dallas. Why? It is time to kick out the corrupt. I would start with that racist SOB John Price!!
    Don't think about all the things you fear, just be glad you're here.

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