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Who Paid for Sheila Jackson Lee’s Visit to Michael Jackson’s Funeral?

The most bizarre moment of the Michael Jackson memorial a few weeks ago at the Staples Center in Los Angeles had to be the rambling speech delivered by Sheila Jackson Lee, the joke of a woman who happens to represent part of Houston in the United States Congress. (At the time, Roll Call reported that Jackson Lee “has a history of making cameo appearances at funerals” and that her staff used to “cull the obituaries” to “find funerals” for her to attend.) There, she announced her intention to introduce a resolution on the House floor listing every single one of Jackson’s charitable contributions and lauding him as a “world humanitarian” (his generosity to various teenage boys was presumably excluded). Fortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi recognized that even this would be too much for the American people to take and put the kibosh on Jackson Lee’s scheme.

Well, it appears that at least some of Jackson Lee’s constituents are up in arms about her trip, as well as the likelihood that she used taxpayer money to fund it. A local television station put Jackson Lee on the spot about the matter. See if you can make hash out of this:

“Who paid for that trip for you to go to that memorial service?” reporter Joel Eisenbaum asked Jackson Lee when she appeared live on the Sunday morning newscast.

“Well, uh … that umm … those resources are resources that I have and, therefore, they are in a way that does not interfere with anything that has to do with serving the United States Congress,” answered Jackson Lee.

“Understood,” Eisenbaum replied. “So, public funds?”

“Those resources are resources that I have,” said Jackson Lee.

Hard as it is to believe, this episode does not rank at the top of Jackson Lee’s most absurd moments. Several years ago, she complained about the paucity of African-American names given by the National Weather Service to Hurricanes. And in 2002 the Weekly Standard revealed that Jackson Lee was using a government car to drive her the one block from her Capitol Hill apartment to her congressional office.

If she indeed did use government money to pay for her junket to the Jackson send-off, Jackson Lee will have to eventually report it. But given the tolerance of the people of Texas’s 18th Congressional District for this sort of ridiculous behavior, Jackson Lee doesn’t have a thing to worry about.

Update: I’d be remiss not to mention a brief item published not long ago by the The Wall Street Journal’s David Feith, who managed to get Jackson Lee’s accomplice, Congresswoman Diane Watson, on the phone to discuss their since scuttled resolution honoring Jackson. “I just marveled at the fact that he bought the remains of the Elephant Man,” she told him (one suspects that she “marvels” at this information for reasons different than those that you or I do). And then there’s this: “Michael saw the world through his own lenses. He saw no harm, no danger, nothing wrong with romping on the bed with children.” Watson should seek work as a criminal defense lawyer. There’s far more money in that than serving in Congress…



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