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Special Report

Lawmaker Awards Scholarships to Relatives

Some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Higher Education

The cost of higher education could get pretty high for one congressman.

Politico reports Georgia Democrat Sanford Bishop awarded three scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to his stepdaughter and his wife's niece. He is the second CBC member accused of inappropriately doling out scholarships to relatives.

A spokeswoman for the foundation says that since 2008 the CBC has required scholarship applicants to certify "that they are not a family member of any member of the CBC, CBCF staff or its board of directors, corporate advisory board or any CBCF sponsored entity."

Bishop's spokesman says the scholarships in question were awarded before 2008. But the president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says, "Any member of Congress should know that if there is a chance to award scholarship money, it shouldn't go to family members."

Tax Bill

Capitol Hill workers owe more than $9 million in back taxes. The Washington Post reports 638 employees -- about 4 percent -- are in arrears; that's 1 percentage point higher than the rest of the country.

No names, party affiliations or job titles are being released by the IRS, but it does show that the average delinquent tax bill for Senate workers is almost $13,000; the average House bill is around $15,500.

Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz says, "If you're on the federal payroll and you're not paying your taxes, you should be fired."

Witch Hunt

Talk about a witch hunt. Romanian lawmakers proposed a bill to tax witches and fortune tellers to raise money for the economically hard-hit country. The witches and fortune tellers would have been required to produce receipts for their services and be held liable for wrong predictions.

But the two lawmakers who proposed the measure have already pulled it, saying their colleagues were scared of being cursed.