Dismissal recommended for earmark ethics allegation against Rep. Bishop

By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009; 11:56 AM

Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.) has a letter from the Office of Congressional Ethics saying that it would recommend dismissal of allegations against him involving an earmark he requested for a program that employed some of his relatives.

Bishop's name is listed on an internal ethics document obtained by The Washington Post that includes matters under investigation by the newly formed OCE as well as the separate House ethics committee. The OCE looks into matters and makes recommendations to the full ethics committee.

Media reports in Georgia said that members of the congressman's family were employed by the Muscogee County Junior Marshal Program, which received almost $200,000 in federal earmarks since fiscal 2008 secured by Bishop. Bishop's stepdaughter, Aayesha Owens Reese, and her husband worked with the program.

Reese and her husband, Stephen, were paid almost $15,000 for part-time work even though they both had full-time jobs about 100 miles away, where they live, according to the reports. Stephen Reese's checks were directly deposited into a bank account held by Vivian Creighton-Bishop -- his mother-in-law, the lawmaker's wife and the clerk of the Municipal Court in Columbus, the reports said.

Bishop, elected in 1992, has said to reporters that he had no idea his stepdaughter and her husband were employed by the program, which offers mentoring to junior high school students. He has said that as soon as he learned about it, he asked the marshal to end the arrangement.

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