More ethics questions were raised about Congress in two separate stories on Tuesday, one about scholarship money doled out by a Texas Democrat and fundraising issues involving two Republicans and one Democrat.
On the fundraising front, the special Office of Congressional Ethics – which acts as sort of an initial investigatory ethics body – recommended that the full ethics committee investigate three members, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY).
The three lawmakers were part of a group of eight who had come under scrutiny over fundraising work done in the time before last year’s House vote on the Wall Street Reform bill.
All three strongly denied any wrongdoing.
“”As a member of Congress, I have always complied with the letter and the spirit of the law. To suggest otherwise is unfounded and untrue,” said Price in a written statement, who said it was a “mystery” how the OCE could think he had done something wrong.
What is odd about this investigation is that none of the three lawmakers changed their votes after fundraisers on the Wall Street Reform issue.
That left Price irked.
“There being no evidence of any wrongdoing or any inconsistency in my policy position, one can only guess as to the motive behind their decision or even why they chose to initiate a review in the first place.”
It wil be up to the House Ethics Committee to determine if a full investigation should be convened.
Meanwhile, on the scholarships front, the Congressional Black Caucus has decided to conduct an internal investigation into how members doled out scholarship money, in the wake of reports that Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) funneled the money to relatives and the kids of a staff member.
“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,” said CBC Chair Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), who said an audit is absolutely necessary.
You can read Payne’s full statement at http://is.gd/eOoRW .
Meanwhile, the Dallas Morning News reported that Johnson doled out almost two dozen scholarships worth $25,000 to four of her relatives and two kids of a key aide.
The AP also reported that Johnson had certified that the recipients were not related to her, which seems to be a false statement.
One thing to make clear here, is that this money is not taxpayer funded. It comes from money raised by the Black Caucus Foundation.
So far, efforts to find out who other Black Caucus members have sent this money to have been unsuccessful. We’ll see if any other members violated the internal rules on who should get this scholarship money.