Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.) has been under the microscope ever since news broke that his stepdaughter and wife's niece received an undisclosed amount of privately funded scholarship money from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation.
Bishop called it a "mistake" and denied there was anything improper with the awards, but it gave his challenger, state Rep. Mike Keown (R), an opening. Republicans lately had started to believe the nine-term incumbent was vulnerable.
But then the chief strategist for Keown's campaign was among close to a dozen lobbyists, state lawmakers and bingo casino operators arrested by the FBI in Alabama on Monday. The 11 men were indicted in a vote-buying scheme.
Keown strategist Jay Walker was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery and 11 counts of honest services fraud, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The men were accused of buying the votes of state lawmakers in an effort to make electronic bingo legal in the state.
Walker resigned from Keown's campaign on Monday, according to the AJC.
"We're very troubled to say the least, and very sad," Keown campaign manager Andrew O'Shea told the paper.
But even in the wake of the congressman's handling of scholarship money, Keown still faced an uphill battle to unseat Bishop.
Georgia's 2nd congressional district, located in the southwest corner of the state, has long been Democratic territory. Bishop easily brushed past challenger Lee Ferrell (R) in 2008, winning by 38 points. That same year, the district went for President Obama over Sen. John McCainJohn McCainDrug importation won't save dollars or lives Dem rep Charlie Crist files for divorce Why the GOP cannot sweep its Milo scandal under the rug MORE (R-Ariz.) 54 percent to 45.
But the district was almost an even split between George W. Bush (R) and Sen. John KerryJohn KerryNew York Knicks owner gave 0K to pro-Trump group A bold, common sense UN move for the Trump administration Former Obama officials say Netanyahu turned down secret peace deal: AP MORE (D-Mass.) in the 2004 presidential election.