October 7, 2010; Source: Associated Press | In these days when candidates run from the press or limit their comments to friendly news outlets, it should be a refreshing moment when officeholders recognize their obligation to speak on the record, especially about controversies that dog them. However, U.S, Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia did little to help answer the question of how his stepdaughter received a scholarship in 2003 from the nonprofit Congressional Black Caucus Foundation as did his niece that same year and again in 2005. Bishop, a Democrat, told the Associated Press that he “was not involved” in the decision and does not know how it happened. The best he’s offering as an explanation is that officials at the foundation or spouses of lawmakers involved in the selection process were responsible. Complicating Bishop’s effort to distance himself from the flap that arose once word got out that his stepdaughter and niece received money—as did relatives of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)—is the fact that his wife headed the spouses group when the questionable awards were made. “Let’s just say that the selections were made,” Bishop said. “She (his wife) had a role in the selection process. And, you know, it was unfortunate that the process allowed the family members to be awarded scholarships.” If Bishop’s wife knows the real story, she’s not talking, at least to news media. AP said she didn’t return calls seeking comment. If any answers are forthcoming, they’ll have to result from an audit the charity started after Johnson acknowledged steering scholarships to her family as well as to the child of one of her staffers.—Bruce Trachtenberg
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