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A scholarship worth nearly $100,000 could become an issue in the Los Angeles mayoral race, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The scholarship was awarded by the University of Southern California to Representative Karen Bass for a master's degree in social work. Bass, a Democrat, is the favorite in the mayoral race.

The same scholarship was awarded to former L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the former dean of USC’s social work program, Marilyn Flynn, who were indicted on bribery and fraud charges.

Federal prosecutors have made no indication that Bass is under a criminal investigation. But prosecutors have now said that Bass’s scholarship and her dealings with USC are “critical” to their bribery case.

By awarding the scholarship to Bass in 2011, Flynn wanted to obtain the congresswoman’s assistance in passing legislation, prosecutors wrote in a recent court filing. Bass later sponsored a bill in Congress that would have expanded USC’s and other private universities’ access to federal funding for social work—“just as defendant Flynn wanted,” the filing states.

Bass denied wrongdoing. “Everybody knows that the welfare of children and families has been a passion and policy focus of mine for decades,” she said. “The only reason I studied nights and weekends for a master’s degree was to become a better advocate for children and families—period.”

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