Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Another Democrat gets membership in the Culture of Corruption

Chicago congressman criticized for $1 million grant (Associated Press)
CHICAGO - [Democrat] U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who sits on a committee that considers telecommunications legislation, has ties to a nonprofit organization that has received $1 million in grants from one of the nation's largest phone companies. Critics say Rush's relationship with the Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation poses a conflict of interest.

Rush's Energy and Commerce Committee will vote Wednesday on a rewrite of a controversial telecommunications law the Chicago Democrat co-sponsored. Phone companies support the "Communications Opportunity Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006" because it will allow them to compete with cable television providers.

"People can disagree about where to draw the line on contributions and abstaining from votes, but $1 million is definitely over that line," said Sheila Krumholz, the acting executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

The SBC Foundation awarded the Englewood group grant money to create the still unopened "Bobby L. Rush Center for Community Technology." Rush and his wife sit on the group's board of trustees. Rush says the "real conflict" stems from inequities in the telecommunications marketplace that hurt low-income citizens.

"It is a systemic institutional disinvestment in (the) poor by corporate America in communities such as Englewood," Rush told the Chicago Sun-Times in a statement. "We deserve an even playing field."

SBC Communications Inc. acquired AT&T last year and changed over to the AT&T name. "The people in Englewood should not suffer because they have a congressman on the Energy and Commerce Committee," AT&T spokesman Claudia Jones said.

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