After Helping Deliver DNC Primary, Rep. Jim Clyburn Begs Biden For More Black Faces In White House

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Written by Ann Brown
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In this image from video, Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., speaks from Charleston, S.C., during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democratic congressman who has represented South Carolina in the U.S. House for 27 years, is credited with helping President-elect Joe Biden win the primary, ultimately leading to him taking the White House.

Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden was viewed as the moment when everything changed for Biden during the primary, The Washington Post reported. 

During the election, Rep. Clyburn, the House majority whip, campaigned across his home state urging South Carolinians to vote for Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, USA Today reported.

Now Rep. Clyburn wants Biden to pay up by putting more Black people in the White House.

The most senior Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill, Rep. Clyburn recently took Biden to task over administration appointments, saying the president-elect is falling short when it comes to naming Black figures to top positions.

Rep. Clyburn applauded Biden’s selection of Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black veteran of the diplomatic corps, to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations but lamented that so far, she is alone among Black women tapped for cabinet seats and other top slots, according to an interview with Juan Williams on the Fox News Channel.

“From all I hear, Black people have been given fair consideration,” Rep. Clyburn said, according to The Hill. “But there is only one Black woman so far. I want to see where the process leads to, what it produces, but so far it’s not good.” 

Rep. Clyburn has several suggestions for Biden’s Cabinet. 

For agriculture secretary, he is promoting Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), a former Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman and a fierce advocate for food stamps and other low-income nutrition programs.

Rep. Clyburn is also urging Biden to select Jaime Harrison, a Black lobbyist-turned-Senate candidate in South Carolina, to lead the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  Clyburn is advocating for Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. And he wants California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to assume the same spot at the federal level, The Hill reported.

Clyburn’s latest power move was shot down on Twitter. One user posted, “He’s not mad about the masses of Black people being left behind, but instead he’s mad a few Black people aren’t being promoted into high positions. Classic, bankrupt misleadership.”

Another noted the hypocrisy of Clyburn’s demands and pointed to his close relationship with Big Pharma. The user wrote, “he’s controlled by big pharma, black elite care more about gaining power for themselves than fixing the material conditions of black america.”

“Didn’t Clyburn publicly state that he expects NOTHING in return for the Black vote getting Biden in? Why now after it’s too late? What are we doin here? Clyburn makes my blood boil! Ole fish fry havin lurch…,” posted another person on Twitter.

Some social media users complain that Rep. Clyburn is playing a quid pro quo game with Biden, something he came down on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for doing.

In 2019, Rep. Clyburn accused House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Pelosi of not prioritizing diversity hiring within their congressional offices — charging that “tokenism is all right with” his Democratic leadership colleagues, Politico reported. Clyburn later walked back his comments.

“I’ve always managed a fully integrated staff. Pelosi doesn’t have that experience, nor does Hoyer have that experience. To them, tokenism is all right with them,” Rep. Clyburn told The Wall Street Journal. “What I mean is, how many Black folks are on Hoyer’s staff? “I’m going to let you check it out.”

Rep. Clyburn has come under criticism for his connections with Big Pharma. 

Prof. Cornel West earlier this year went off on Clyburn for his way-too-friendly relationship with Big Pharma that has resulted in major campaign contributions to Rep. Clyburn.

Rep. Clyburn has collected more campaign contributions in 10 years from powerful political action committees attached to the pharmaceutical industry than anyone else in the House or Senate, according to Kaiser Health News and a Post and Courier analysis.

He has brought in more than $1 million in campaign contributions from Big Pharma since being elected to office in 1992, Post and Courier reported.

“Look at Brother Clyburn. Clyburn gets more money than any member of Congress from big pharmaceutical companies…,” West said in June on The Useful Idiots podcast with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper, according to Corporate Crime Reporter. “He can act Black as he wants to. Monday through the next Monday. But that’s not going to be enough because you have Black people and other working poor people who want healthcare and want it for everybody.”

During the elections, Rep. Clyburn sided with the swamp establishment to endorse Eliot Engel over Black Progressive Jamaal Bowman in the New York race for a congressional seat.

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“Let me be blunt. We need leaders in Congress with proven records of standing up for civil and human rights,” Clyburn said at the time. “Eliot Engel is not new to the fight for justice and equality — he’s been in the fight his entire life, and I have worked with him on these issues for almost three decades.”

Bowman won his race and is the Democratic Representative-elect for New York’s 16th congressional district as of the 2020 election.