Sanford Bishop: I have determined that the most worthy of scholarship money in my district happen to be my stepdaughter and wife’s niece

September 10, 2010 9:19 am

by Pete Randall · 15 comments

As reported by Politico and Jim Galloway this morning, Rep. Sanford Bishop (D) has determined after exhaustive work and a sweeping search of his constituents that the most eligible people he found to receive three scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation happened to be…his stepdaughter and wife’s niece. Well played, my friend. Well played.

In 2003, Emmaundia Whitaker, the niece of Vivian Creighton Bishop, who is Bishop’s wife, was awarded an education scholarship. She was also given a similar award in 2005.

And in 2003, Aayesha Owens Reese, the congressman’s stepdaughter, was granted an education scholarship as well.

The congressman’s wife, is a longtime state employee in Georgia. She currently serves as clerk of the municipal court in Columbus, Georgia.

A Bishop spokesman insisted the Georgia Democrat did not violate CBC Foundation rules that were in place at that time by awarding scholarships to family members.

“It is our understanding that the CBC Foundation in 2008 revisited the guidelines and processes for its scholarship programs, and as such included language to clarify that CBC family members are not eligible to receive the scholarships,” said Ashton McRae, Bishop’s spokesman, in a statement released by the office. “These scholarships … were awarded prior to 2008.”

Well, that must make everything all right, then. See, it wasn’t barred earlier in the decade! The real question is what value system leads a sitting Congressman to think it’s acceptable to give CBC scholarships to his own family over those more needy in his district. Unless Congressman Bishop believes there is no one more deserving of help then his own family. Doesn’t he care about The Children™?

Interestingly, the scholarship applicants are required to live or attend school in the lawmakers’ districts, have at least a 2.5 grade point average, and “exhibit leadership ability and participate in community service activities,” among other restrictions. For the scholarships granted to Reese and Whitaker, the applicants must be planning to “pursue a degree in the fields of medicine, engineering, technology, nutrition, or other health related studies,” according to the CBC Foundation’s website.

And what did Reese end up doing with her life after planning to pursue a degree in “medicine, engineering, technology, nutrition, or other health related studies?” Why she took a job with the Fulton County District Attorney’s office! Of course! What a logical next step.

Information on what colleges Reese and Whitaker were attending at the time of the scholarship awards or what degrees they were pursuing was not available.

Maybe Congressman Bishop would care to release that information…today?

Much like with yesterday’s story about Bishop, don’t bother asking his aide Jamey Crozier what he thinks about this. He’ll probably just accuse you of racism and threaten to withhold any Federal assistance from his office.

Tiberius September 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm

You can’t make this stuff up!!

He wants to lose this eelction now, he should just resign and save some people a lot of money.

James Fannin September 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Or another way of looking at the change in the scholarship program in 2008 might be “As a result of widespread nepotism and abuse, the CBC instituted new guidelines to halt the corrupt practice of awarding scholarships to family members.” BTW, who pays for those scholarships? I’m guessing corporations and others seeking the favor of CBC membership. The scholarships are just a legal way to shake down donors in exchange for access and other favorable treatment. You may not be able to give money to Sanford Bishop directly for his personal benefit but you can give money to a scholarship fund and that is less money that Bishop has to pay to send his step daughter to college.

RuralDem September 10, 2010 at 2:14 pm

“BTW, who pays for those scholarships?”

If you actually read the Politico link that’s provided, it’ll give you some information.

James Fannin September 10, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Politico alludes to a Corporate Advisory Board but isn’t clear that corporations get shaken down to attend their annual fund raising event in Mississippi every year.

SFCWallace September 10, 2010 at 1:44 pm

You guys are obviously racists and homophobes…oh yeah, Islam haters as well!

John Konop September 10, 2010 at 3:16 pm

This is the definition of the “lucky sperm club”

Buddha the Magnificent September 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I’m reminded of the old Baldy cartoon (I think it was Baldy) in the AJC showing Herman Talmadge with his hand in the cookie jar.

Progressive Dem September 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Smells.

ZazaPachulia September 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm

this is pretty bad… good luck explaining this one, Rep. Bishop

drjay September 10, 2010 at 8:25 pm

seriously, much ado about nothing…what’s the point of being a member if you don’t get the occasional perk such as this…

AlanR September 10, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Poor guy can’t afford to help his family. He owes the Greeburg Taurig law firm over $250,000

No problem finding contributors to the scholarship fund — Bishop is on the appropriations committee.

jeff September 11, 2010 at 12:58 pm

His campaign has already paid Greenburg Taurig $146,000. He owes at least another $250,000. All because the same step-daughter that got the scholarship money was found last year to be making money from a program a Sanford Bishop earmark funded. Oh yeah she was working in that program while she held a full time job over 100 miles away. All that money he spent in legal fees made that situation go away fast and quiet.

hannah September 11, 2010 at 10:58 am

Just by co-incidence, I was preparing an ARRA update:

The latest information about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 can be found here.

In summary, of the $787 billion approved to be either spent or not collected as taxes, $515 billion have been allocated, so far.  Although the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 3.3 million jobs have been created as a consequence of this infusion of money, it seems worth noting that our private corporations, the supposedly major engines of job creation, are sitting on $837 billion in cash, which they are refusing to invest in new plant or new hires because of “uncertainties.”
Since when did our risk-taking entrepreneurs and innovators turn into shrinking violets?
In addition to the summary pages, recovery.gov provides detailed reports on what’s happening on a state by state basis, including which grant recipients have failed to file the required reports on what they did with the money they got.  The non-compliers are reported in pdf format, which has to be downloaded to your computer. In New Hampshire there seems to be only one laggard, the Southeast Land Trust of NH, which received $56,400 of taxpayer dollars and hasn’t had the courtesy to acknowledge receipt and say thank you.
Florida, for comparison, has just two delinquents who received a total of a little less than $130,000, whereas Georgia, that very Republican state, can point to seven laggards, responsible for a grand total of $5,808,151, four million of which went to Flint Cable TV.  There’s no question they got the money.

March 2010

FLINT CABLE AWARDED BROADBAND STIMULUS GRANT

Flint Cable TV is awarded a stimulus grant funding in the amount of a $4,095,913 loan and $4,095,913 grant. The funding will provide a Hybrid Fiber Coaxial (HFC) network to homes in underserved areas of Culloden, Yatesville, and Southern Crawford County Georgia allowing for real technological growth in each of these underserved areas. This HFC network will use the latest DOCSIS 3.0 cable standard, enabling channel bonding and initial speeds up to 20 Mbps….

On Friday, February 19, 2010, Congressman Sanford Bishop was the guest speaker for the Taylor County Kiwanis Club in Reynolds, GA. Congressman Bishop outlined the many advantages of broadband and conveyed his support for broadband stimulus in the rural areas of Georgia currently not served or under-served – citing his desire for job growth and a better educated population. Congressman Bishop has been involved in the broadband stimulus grant process from the beginning and has constantly monitored the progress for the Flint Cable Television grant application.

Ah, perhaps that explains it. The Congressman is monitoring, so reports don’t have to be written.

Though, somebody at Public Service Telephone Company has quite a knack for writing. Read their history Here’s just a taste:

The Roberta Telephone Company originally belonged to H. A. (Howard) Bond, brother to H. C. (Hiram) Bond and was later purchased from him by Hiram. Hiram worked at Peeler Hardware Company in Macon before beginning his telephone career. He was married to Bessie Marie Moore and they had three children Wilhelmina, Mabel and H. C., Jr.

Hiram worked at the Reynolds and Roberta exchanges while Bessie was minding the family in Macon. She realized the opportunity to purchase the Lizella exchange and literally saved money in a small container at home in order to make the purchase. After the purchase, she would transport the construction crew out to the job site in her automobile. Meals were prepared for the crew at home and taken to them by a young member of the family.

EverythingZenX21 September 11, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Questions posed by Andy Sere of the NRCC:

Friends –

As you report on the latest ethical scandal surrounding Rep. Sanford Bishop, please note that there are several serious questions the congressman still needs to answer:

1. How does Bishop respond to CBC Foundation Board Member/noted Democrat strategist Donna Brazille’s statement via Twitter that she’s “deeply troubl[ed]” by the allegations against him?

RT @politico Rep. Sanford Bishop steered CBC scholarships to family. As a member of the CBCF’s board, I find these allegations alarming. about 14 hours ago via Twitterrific

donnabrazile

2. When does Bishop plan to pay the appropriate federal tax penalties for these scholarships – penalties he voted for?

Bishop voted for HR 2337, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, on April 16, 1996. (Roll Call Vote 119). The Taxpayer Bill of Rights became law on July 30, 1996.

A former director of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations explained the possible penalties Bishop must pay which were included in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights:

“‘Causing scholarships to be awarded to relatives or perhaps even business associates … would likely be viewed by the IRS as an excess benefit,’ [Marc] Owens said. ‘The individual who receives the benefit would be subject to an excise tax of 25 percent.’

“The arcane provision is meant to deter charities from lining the pockets of insiders.

“Congress created the penalty in 1996 to give the IRS an intermediate stick to use when a charity violates the tax code – something short of trying to revoke its tax-exempt status.

“The provision, now found in Section 4958 of the tax code, was tucked into the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act, which sailed through the House without a single ‘no’ vote.”

(Todd J. Gillman, “Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson Repays Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for Scholarships,” Dallas Morning News, 09/02/10)

3. Did Emmaundia Whitaker and Aayesha Owens Reese enroll in degree programs that met the requirements of the scholarships they received?

“For instance, in order to get money under the ‘CBC Spouses Cheerios Brand Health Initiative Scholarship,’ as both Reese and Whitaker did, applicants must be planning to ‘pursue a degree in the fields of medicine, engineering, technology, nutrition, or other health related studies,’ according to the CBC Foundation’s website.

“Information on what colleges Reese and Whitaker were attending at the time of the scholarship awards or what degrees they were pursuing was not available.”

(John Bresnahan, “Bishop Steered Scholarships to Family,” Politico, 09/09/10)

4. Did Emmaundia Whitaker and Aayesha Owens Reese live in or attend college in Bishop’s district?

“Applicants for the CBC foundations scholarships – which are funded by big companies like General Mills and Wal-Mart – are required to live or attend school in the lawmakers’ districts, have at least a 2.5 grade point average, and “exhibit leadership ability and participate in community service activities,” among other restrictions.”

“Information on what colleges Reese and Whitaker were attending at the time of the scholarship awards or what degrees they were pursuing was not available.

“However, Aayesha Owens Reese was working in the Fulton County District Attorney’s office last year, according to news reports. She and her husband are residents of Lithonia, Ga., an Atlanta suburb, Sanford’s website states.”

(John Bresnahan, “Bishop Steered Scholarships to Family,” Politico, 09/09/10)

5. How much did Emmaundia Walker and Aayesha Owens Reese receive in CBC scholarships?

“The CBC’s Cooper said the amount of the awards ‘is left up to the individual districts’ and declined to provide information on how much Reese and Whitaker received via Bishop.”

(John Bresnahan, “Bishop Steered Scholarships to Family,” Politico, 09/09/10)

6. Does Bishop believe his wife is a “disqualified person” who received an illegal benefit under the law he voted for?

Bishop’s wife Vivian was an officer for the CBC Spouses, which awarded the scholarships to Emmaundia Walker and Aayeshia Owens Reese, in 2002 (see PDF p. 28), as the chair of the CBC Spouses and a member of the CBC Board of Directors in 2003 (see PDF p. 44), 2004 (see PDF p. 17), 2005 (see PDF p. 32). CBC scholarships were awarded to Aayeshia Owens Reese in 2003 and Emmaundia Walker in 2003 and 2005, when Bishop’s wife was a member of the CBC Board of Directors.

Non-profit tax expert Marc Owens believes that Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), who like Vivian Bishop served on the board of the CBC, was a “disqualified person” who should not have received any additional compensation for her service, such as scholarships for her family:

“From 2002 to 2005, Johnson served on the Black Caucus Foundation’s board. Under IRS rules, for five years after she left, she is viewed as a ‘disqualified person,’ who cannot be paid anything beyond compensation for services rendered, or expense reimbursements.

“The foundation will have to report the $31,000 to the IRS as an excess benefit, Owens said, though he added that ‘the IRS hasn’t processed a lot of cases under this excise tax.’”

(Todd J. Gillman, “Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson Repays Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for Scholarships,” Dallas Morning News, 09/02/10)

starsandstripes September 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Educating only his family and friends…this is clearly a plot to take over the world.

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