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Eddie Bernice Johnson Scholarship Controversy Widens

By Jack Fink
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Eddie Bernice Johnson

Eddie Bernice Johnson (Credit: Facebook)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) -Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport officials are investigating whether a family member of one of its vice presidents received a scholarship from Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, which could be a violation of its rules.

The congresswoman has drawn criticism recently for awarding 23 scholarships to her family members and the children of one of her aides.

As vice president at DFW Airport, Don O’Bannon’s job is to oversee contracts with minority and women-owned businesses. That includes a company that operates newsstands at the airport, which has ties to Johnson.

The airport has placed O’Bannon on administrative leave following an anonymous allegation that Johnson selected his daughter to receive a scholarship from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

“The airport has this under review and I’m simply going to wait for their determination,” O’Bannon said Tuesday from his home near Joe Pool Lake. “I’ll be more than happy to visit with you after it’s all done, but right now, there’s a process, and I’m going to allow the process to work its way through.”

The airport has hired an independent law firm to see if O’Bannon violated any of its ethics policies.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who is also an airport board member, issued a statement saying, “Both the DFW board chair and the airport’s CEO Jeff Fegan have assured me that the allegations are being taken seriously and are being thoroughly and independently scrutinized.”

Johnson’s communications director declined to comment on the matter. Leppert has asked Fegan to review the airport’s ethics codes to make sure they are adequate, and that they cover board members as well as staff.

“I think at the end of the day, I’ll be exonerated,” O’Bannon said.

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