Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
The Congressional Black Caucus had a front seat to #MeToo with the revelation that $220,000 had been paid out to a staffer alleging sexual harassment by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), a former judge impeached for bribery whose girlfriend has been on his payroll to the tune of $2.4 million, and that Rep. Conyers (D-MI) had his own sexual harassment settlement. That scandal forced Rep. Conyers to resign and hand the seat to his son at the behest of his wife, Monica, who had been convicted of bribery.
Corruption, fraud and bribery are ongoing problems at the Congressional Black Caucus.
After two decades of financial scandals, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) was convicted of running a fake charity and sentenced in December. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) was sentenced last December for bribery, fraud and money laundering. His son, Chaka Fattah Jr, was already in prison on unrelated bank fraud charges. Around the same time the wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Il) had wrapped up her prison sentence after her husband had ended his prison term a year earlier on fraud charges.
Hardly a year goes by without a criminal case involving a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Bribery and fraud, fake charities and money laundering to pay for the high life are familiar CBC themes . Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. bought a gold Rolex, Michael Jackson and Malcolm X memorabilia, and mink capes. Rep. Brown stole from poor children to pay for an NFL luxury box (won’t you take a knee) and a Beyonce concert. Chaka Fattah Jr. bought Hermes ties and a Ritz-Carlton condo.
These aren’t aberrations. They’re part of the culture of corruption at the Congressional Black Caucus.
The year that Barack Obama, a former CBC member whose level of corruption outdid any of his former colleagues by climbing into the high stratospheric billions and using the Justice Department to run a massive slush fund, took office, every single House member investigated on ethics charges was CBC. A former study suggested that a third of CBC legislators had faced an ethics probe.
That’s what a culture of political corruption looks like.
But the Congressional Black Caucus has consistently blamed all of its corruption troubles on racism. And CBC members would always play the race card. Rep. Corrine Brown had improbably claimed that Obama’s DOJ had targeted her because “I'm a black woman with a mouth.”
It’s the same old racist excuse. And racism is the usual cover story for CBC corruption.
When Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) was accused of stealing a woman’s first class airplane seat, she claimed that it only happened “because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target.” The woman she casually accused of racism had no previous idea of who even stole her seat. And as a Democrat and a human rights activist was probably angry about her lost seat, not the politician’s race.
No one can be too surprised at a politician receiving preferential treatment at the expense of ordinary citizens. Especially a politician who had once allegedly howled, “You don’t understand. I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen.” It’s the eagerness with which CBC members shut down any conversations about their corruption with casual accusations of racism that is the real problem.
The worst offender in the Conyers sexual harassment case wasn’t actually the congressman in question. It was another Black Caucus member who came to his defense by accusing his victims of racism.
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) allegedly claimed that Conyers’ accusers were all white women. And suggested that the accusations were somehow racially motivated. Other CBC members threatened Democrats who criticized Rep. Conyers and there were suggestions that the calls for his resignation were racist.
“Do you go and stalk white people’s houses or just come to the black neighborhoods and stalk our houses?” Monica Conyers demanded.
The claim that Rep. Conyers’ accusers were “all white women” proved to be a lie. But it shouldn’t have mattered what race the women accusing a politician of sexual harassment were. Nor should it have mattered what race the passenger whose seat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee allegedly stole might have been.
The reflexive accusations of racism by Congressional Black Caucus members hurled at their alleged victims and at any attempt to bring them to justice is at the root of the CBC’s culture of racial corruption. The Caucus is a racially exclusive body. And it uses race and racism as weapons to protect its privileges of power. It doesn’t admit white politicians who represent African-American districts.
"It is critical that its membership remain exclusively African American,” Rep. William Lacy Clay Sr. (D-MO) had written. Referring to a white Democrat’s membership bid from an African-American district, he declared that, “he does not, and cannot, meet the membership criteria unless he can change his skin color.” It’s the same familiar mantra of slavery and segregation but with a politically correct twist.
Rep. Clay has paid out nearly a million dollars in campaign funds to his sister’s law firm.
"We supported the tradition that only African-Americans have been full members of the CBC," insisted Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), whose son and husband would be convicted on charges that included fraud and racketeering.
Urban political machines have a long history of exploiting ethnic and racial solidarity to maintain their grip on power. The Congressional Black Caucus did not invent an original form of corruption. Tammany Hall went through various ethnic incarnations as one immigrant group made way for another.
The Congressional Black Caucus is not uniquely corrupt because it is black. But it uses racial solidarity and animosity to protect its insidious corruption. The CBC uses the idea of racial persecution to convince the African-American areas it preys on to turn a blind eye to its corruption. And it depicts its critics and victims, whether they are the women groped by Rep. Conyers or the poor children ripped off by Rep. Brown, as pawns or perpetrators of a racist conspiracy against black people.
The CBC’s merger of xenophobia and corruption is nothing new. But it’s a uniquely toxic tactic to utilize during a time of racial tensions. The Caucus styles itself as the “conscience of the congress”, but it has no conscience. It’s become a gang of thieves united by greed, racial solidarity and racial animosity.
The Congressional Black Caucus is uniquely destructive to black people and to the entire country. Its corrupt civil rights icons have long since become mirrors of the very thing they once fought against. And their accusations of racism are reflections of their own racism and their own racial privileges.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Rep. Clyburn’s accusations show how the perniciously corrupt culture of the CBC’s racial solidarity has turned race and racism into unlimited justifications for their own abuses. The Caucus’ racism and corruption feed into each other in a vicious cycle that spurs its members to greater ethics violations and noisier accusations of racism. The corruption charges then become proof of racism.
The more CBC members are arrested and jailed, the more the Caucus doubles down on the conviction that the only reason they were jailed is racism. And then it exploits that sense of racial grievance to justify even more corruption. This vicious cycle of racism and thievery in the CBC must be broken.
Congress has a racism problem. Its name is the Congressional Black Caucus.