Commentary: Bishop's Black Caucus scholarship issue isn't trivial

Rep. Sanford Bishop said he has repaid $6,350 to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for scholarship funds he secured for family members and acquaintances.

Repayment of the money should be a given. It doesn't come close to explaining how a veteran congressman wouldn't know better than to do such a thing in the first place.

The website Politico.com reported last week that between 2003 and 2005, Bishop's office awarded CBC Foundation scholarship funds to a stepdaughter, a niece-in-law and a woman who married a longtime Bishop aide.

That all this happened more than five years ago does not change the ethical lapses involved or make the situation any more acceptable. If anything, it should be an object lesson to anybody in politics (with apologies to William Faulkner): The past is never really past.

Members of the CBC reportedly are allotted $10,000 each in scholarship money, which is awarded at their individual discretion.

"Discretion" might be the key word here. Bishop's office has said that nothing at the time prohibited relatives of lawmakers from applying for, or receiving, Congressional Black Caucus scholarship money.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.