Longtime readers of JJP know that we have been clocking the CBC for some time now. Since we launched this here blog in 2006. The CBC  may once have been “unbossed and unbought” but things have changed since Sister Shirley Chisholm‘s time. A certain whiff of corruption, corporate-coziness and complacency has set in. Some CBC members have lost touch with the very people whose interests they purport to represent. And the CBC now has some serious ‘splaining to do after an in-depth investigation by the New York Times.

CBC and its members’ recent crimes against black people include:

  • defending & backing William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson whose freezer was found with $90,000 in it with a wink and a nod
  • pledging support for Hillary Clinton over fellow CBC member Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic superdelegate controversy and against the votes of their districts — support that only withered under extreme pressure from their constituents, black bloggers & Color of Change and finally the media
  • planning to host a 2008 presidential primary debate on Fox News despite Fox’s policy of racist attacks on African-Americans and other minorities
  • supporting the rent-to-own industry which preys on African-American communities
  • holding an annual event called the CBC Legislative Conference in DC that might as well be called the Negro Super-Prom — which spends more on lighting than on the scholarships and internships it claims to be raising money for
  • siding with large telecoms failing to support Net Neutrality and which protects independent filmmakers and musicians, community organizers and activists, entrepreneurs and more
  • Hosting a Golf and Tennis event for CBC Spouses instead of say, a service weekend in Katrina-hit gulf coast or urban-blighted communities (watch video above)
  • etc, etc

Look, DC is filled with groups that find ways to get corporate dollars. The GOP is very good at this. And I’m not saying that the CBC does not deserve the attention of corporations. Still, it’s about balance. All this attention and influence should be used to improve the lives of African-Americans throughout the nation — not just a few African-Americans with access and privilege who feel a sense of entitlement.

Really, if you are a black person in America, I would encourage you to read the whole thing. It’s good reporting and takes what we’ve tried to do here at JJP — which is highlighting real hypocrisy & greed taking advantage of the disadvantaged — to a whole new level. Kudos to the New York Times for taking this seriously and linking to the CBC’s own videos plus helpful charts and graphs that track the money. We don’t need black bashing — a similar light should be shone on other Congressional Caucuses cuz lord knows many of the best parties I’ve attended in DC are thrown by well-funded Republican groups, for realz.

Below are a few of my favorite excerpts (emphasis mine):

Elsie L. Scott, chief executive of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, acknowledged that the companies want to influence members. In fact, the fund-raising brochures make clear that the bigger the donation, the greater the access, like a private reception that includes members of Congress for those who give more than $100,000.

“They are trying to get the attention of the C.B.C. members,” Ms. Scott said. “And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. They’re in business, and they want to deal with people who have influence and power.” [snip]

Ms. Scott said she, too, had heard criticism that the caucus foundation takes too much from companies seen as hurting blacks. But she said she was still willing to take their money.

Black people gamble. Black people smoke. Black people drink,” she said in an interview. “And so if these companies want to take some of the money they’ve earned off of our people and give it to us to support good causes, then we take it.”

[...]

The Southern Company, the dominant electric utility in four Southeastern states, spent more than $300,000 to host an awards ceremony the next night honoring Ms. Lee, the black caucus chairwoman, with Shaun Robinson, a TV personality from “Access Hollywood,” as a co-host. The bill for limousine services — paid by Southern — exceeded $11,000.

[...]

Annual spending on the events, including an annual prayer breakfast that Coca-Cola sponsors and several dozen policy workshops typically sponsored by other corporations, has more than doubled since 2001, costing $3.9 million in 2008. More than $350,000 went to the official decorator and nearly $400,000 to contractors for lighting and show production, according to tax records. (By comparison, the caucus spent $372,000 on internships in 2008, tax records show.)

[...]

“It is unfortunate that the members of the black caucus who are supporting this bill did not check with us first,” said Margot Saunders, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center. “Because the legislation they are supporting would simply pre-empt state laws that are designed to protect consumers against an industry that rips them off.”

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