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Seven other Bishop scholarships drawing scrutiny

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- Rocked by revelations of inappropriate scholarship awards from U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop's office to family members. The National Republican Congressional Committee is now questioning seven additional Congressional Black Caucus Foundation awards from Bishop.

Each year, the CBC Foundation provides CBC members with $10,000 a year to be awarded in scholarships to deserving students. In 2008, the CBC amended its rules to prevent the money from going to members' relatives.

On Monday, Bishop said he had repaid the foundation $6,350 for the four original scholarships -- awarded to a niece and his stepdaughter -- that had come to light. The seven new allegations from the NRCC deal with scholarships awarded to people with possible ties to the congressman.

The four original scholarships and the seven that are now being questioned were doled out from 2003 to 2007 and all were awarded prior to the CBC Foundation's rules change. Four of the scholarships in question involve Bishop's wife, Vivian.

According to the NRCC, the seven questionable scholarships center around:

* Jonathan Alston - a former employee of Bishop's office who has presumably never lived in or attended college in Bishop's district - in clear violation of scholarship rules;

* Tiffany N. Tisdale - the niece of Bishop's Field Representative Elaine Gillespie;

* Robin Foster - the niece of Bishop's $8,000 donor, Calvin Smyre;

* Bonica T. Smith - the daughter of one of Bishop's wife's employees;

* Lemeka S. Jacobs - the daughter of one of Bishop's wife's employees;

* Aubrey Smith - the nephew of one of Bishop's wife's employees;

* Kelli J. Blair - the daughter of one of Bishop's wife's employees.

"The CBC has reviewed those (additional) scholarships and found they were all legitimate," Bishop campaign spokesman Tim Turner said. "In fact, they told us the scholarships were legitimate before and after the CBC Foundation amended its scholarship restrictions."

The Keown campaign quickly fired back.

"For Bishop to say he didn't do anything wrong and try to brush this off is like the time I ate my Mom's chocolate and denied doing it. The thing is, I had it all over my mouth," O'Shea said."It is crystal clear that Bishop funneled money to his family and friends through scholarships and earmarks. This kind of abuse leaves him unfit to hold public office."