Rep. Johnson emerges after scholarship scandal

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on September 11, 2010 at 11:58 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 13 at 1:40 AM

DALLAS — Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) is still facing criticism for improperly giving scholarship money to relatives.

But on Saturday, the congresswoman was back home and ready to move past the controversy.

Johnson walked into the 18th annual community park picnic for the 30th Congressional district with confidence.

It was her first public appearance, days after having back surgery, days after the scholarship scandal broke.

"I'm delighted to be back. I have been out of the office. I've been working from home and I'm glad to come home," she said.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the congresswoman arranged for more than 23 scholarship awards to family members and children of a staff member, a violation under the rules.

Johnson told WFAA she never saw the rules, but admitted she made a mistake.

She then paid back the scholarship money — $31,000 — to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

"I have not done anything to violate any laws. I haven't taken any new cars. I have not taken any money from the government and I feel fine going forward," she said.

Johnson is looking ahead to November's election, but her Republican opponent, Stephen Broden, wants her out of office.

Broden, who is a clergyman, is demanding an ethics investigation.

This past week, Broden received two letters at his office. The letters —  on Congressional stationery and bearing Johnson's signature —  ask the foundation to send the scholarship checks directly to her family members in their names instead of going to their schools.

"I think what it reveals that she was actively involved, more than she led on," Broden said.

Johnson didn't comment any further on the scholarship funds at Saturday's event, but told News 8 that her record goes beyond the controversy.

"I didn't start working the last two weeks — I've been working over 30 years. I've been working in Congress 18 years and there are some people who remember that," she said.

E-mail: mdiaz@wfaa.com

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