September 19, 2011

Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) Earns Dishonorable Mention in CREW’s Annual Most Corrupt Report

Washington, D.C. – Common sense should dictate that steering scholarship money intended for needy kids to your family and friends isn’t the most ethical thing to do.  Nevertheless, Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) handed out scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) to his relatives and others with ties to him and his wife.   It’s no wonder he’s earned himself a dishonorable mention from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in its annual Most Corrupt Members of Congress report. Click here to read the full report on Rep. Bishop.

“There are certainly plenty of worthy kids in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District who really could have used that scholarship money. Instead, Rep. Bishop doled the money out to family and friends,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.

The CBCF gives each of its members $10,000 a year to distribute as scholarships.  While official nepotism rules were not put in place until 2008, CBCF lawyer Amy Goldson told the Associated Press that it was long understood that the money was not to be distributed to relatives. 

Between 2001 and 2005, Rep. Bishop awarded at least eight scholarships to people with connections to him, his office, or his wife, Columbus Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop.  These included one scholarship to his stepdaughter and one to his niece.  While most CBC members set up a scholarship committee to decide who receives money, Rep. Bishop did not. After the scandal was exposed last year, Rep. Bishop agreed to repay the CBCF $6,350 to cover the cost of the scholarships awarded to his stepdaughter and niece.   He does not appear to have repaid the costs of the other scholarships.

“It is hard to imagine conduct much more shameful than diverting scholarship funds away from deserving kids to family members, and it certainly does not reflect creditably on the House,” said Ms. Sloan.

This is the 7th edition of the CREW’S Most Corrupt Report, an annual look at a bipartisan collection of Washington’s worst.  This year’s list includes seven Democrats, and 12 Republicans.  Five are repeat offenders.  Since 2005, CREW has named 70 members of Congress to the list, 32 of whom are no longer in office. 

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