The Improprieties of Eddie Bernice Johnson, Part 2
by John Wright on November 2, 2010 at 2:17 PM
As the race for the TX 30th Congressional district has progressed, we’ve heard quite a lot about scholarships and newsstands. Now let’s discuss the many other incidents in the EBJ record of impropriety and abuse of office.
There was the 1990 redistricting, for instance. From the very beginning of the redistricting process, EBJ declared her unyielding determination to create a minority congressional district in Dallas County (Morning News, July 14, 1990). Left unspoken was her intention to create it as her personal fiefdom.
The Morning News began speculating that the district would be drawn to favor EBJ’s election prospects as early as August 13th of 1990, when the process was just beginning, and staffers of state representatives later openly lampooned her attempts to shape the district to her advantage, as reported by the Morning News on June 9th, 1991.
Eventually, she laid claim to so many safe Democratic voters from other adjoining districts (like Martin Frost's) that her colleagues publicly rebelled against her, even after she threatened a lawsuit to defend her territory. Her fallback proposal was so outrageously gerrymandered that the Supreme Court disallowed it, saying it embodied "the odious imprint of racial apartheid." Primary results from 13 adjoining districts were disallowed due to her overweening ambition (see the Dallas Observer piece of October 31, 1996 for documentation).
In fact, stick with that Dallas Observer piece for a minute, as it details a number of ethical transgressions. There’s the unusually large number of complaints that former staffers have made regarding their treatment by her to the House Office of Fair Labor Practices, many of which have resulted in judgments against her.
These complaints are unsurprising, given her shocking exploitation of her congressional staff. They are required, for instance, to serve as her personal chauffeur, even on nights and weekends, in their own personal vehicles, and with no mileage reimbursement.
She also demands that they do her shopping, move furniture, and assist with her laundry. Her method of compelling her employees to perform these tasks is by creating an atmosphere of intimidation, regularly spreading malicious gossip and false accusations about employees who have departed of fallen out of favor. In one case she made baseless accusations of theft, resulting in an official investigation, against two former employees, despite the fact that her own chief of staff attested to their innocence. Police later reached the same conclusion.
What’s more, she was fined $44,000 by the FEC for campaign finance violations, including an illegal $16,000 personal loan. She initially claimed to not realize that such loans were illegal, and then later, blamed them on her lawyer (much like she initially claimed that the scholarships she granted to her relatives were on the up-and-up, and later blamed them on her chief of staff). And more than one staffer has accused her of using congressional staff for campaign work, a flagrant violation of congressional ethics rules.
Let’s count it all up: Fleecing the scholarship program for her own personal gain, and that of her family. The use of political clout to deprive other more qualified members of the minority community of the opportunity to benefit from contracting set-asides designed to increase their opportunities for success. Manipulating the redistricting process to advance her interests at the expense of her Democratic colleagues, and doing it so brazenly that elections in 13 congressional districts had to be redone. Tyrannical exploitation of congressional staff. Campaign finance violations. And more campaign finance violations.
The evidence is overwhelming. Eddie Bernice Johnson cannot be trusted with political power.