Andrew Breitbart was right about Pigford.
In a random act of real journalism, the NY Times finally got around to digging into the Pigford case, in essence vindicating Breitbart, and filed this story on April 25th, 2013:
In the winter of 2010, after a decade of defending the government against bias claims by Hispanic and female farmers, Justice Department lawyers seemed to have victory within their grasp.
Ever since the Clinton administration agreed in 1999 to make $50,000 payments to thousands of black farmers, the Hispanics and women had been clamoring in courtrooms and in Congress for the same deal. They argued, as the African-Americans had, that biased federal loan officers had systematically thwarted their attempts to borrow money to farm.
But a succession of courts — and finally the Supreme Court — had rebuffed their pleas. Instead of an army of potential claimants, the government faced just 91 plaintiffs. Those cases, the government lawyers figured, could be dispatched at limited cost.
They were wrong.
On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.
The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud.
Read the whole thing.
Breitbart.com, is naturally running a front page story on this turn of events:
The New York Timesreported Friday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has likely enabled massive fraud in the Pigford series of legal settlements, in which black, Hispanic, female and Native American farmers have claimed to be victims of past discrimination.
The cost of the settlements, which could exceed $4.4 billion, is the result of a process that “became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees,” the Times notes.
Among those influential members of Congress was then-Senator Barack Obama, who made Pigford payouts a priority in exchange for political support for his 2008 presidential campaign among a coveted group of black voters in the rural South, the Times reports.
As president, Obama continued to support payouts for new groups of claimants while abandoning a review process that had been used to fight fraud. The aim was “buying the support” of minorities, according to the Times, while middlemen created a “cottage industry” in defrauding the government.
A little more background on it from Breitbart himself (via Lee Stranahan on Twitter):
Implications in North Carolina for Kay Hagan’s 2014 Reelection
Without question, Kay Hagan has been 100% in support of Pigford. Hagan’s office from the start was on board behind President Obama in this fleecing of the taxpayer, which was in essence boiled down to buying Democrat support in rural areas.
From Hagan’s office in 2010 via Project Vote Smart: Hagan to Attend Presidential Signing Ceremony for Pigford Farmers’ Bill
“Since coming to the Senate, I have worked to right this wrong for farmers in North Carolina and across the country,” said Hagan. “In North Carolina, African American farmers were discriminated against and denied just compensation for decades. This is a historic day. With this law, our farmers are finally receiving the justice they deserve.”
The press release mentions a roundtable with NC farmers, here is some related video:
So…How many farmers in NC, exactly? Hagan has to date never stated that. In fact, I could locate no statement by Hagan acknowledging how many claimants are in NC or in the suit overall. News reports, and the bill text itself, place the number at 4,000 yet the number of claimants in 2009 was 1,349. Nor did I find a rebuttal of the fact the bill she co-sponsored was for 94,000 when in reality, the maximum number would be between 18,000 and 30,000 – with 30,000 being generous by going by a later census date. The Daily Caller highlights the discrepancy:
Sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee by the president of the National Black Farmers Association, John Boyd, put the number of black farmers in America at 18,000.
To date, more than 94,000 individuals have filed discrimination claims.
That’s off by about 76,000. A bill costing $1.15 Billion. You’d think someone who co-sponsored the legislation might take notice and say, ‘wait a minute…” but that didn’t happen. Instead, Hagan pushed forward:
“The Senate has come through for Black farmers,” Senator Hagan said. “Today, we are a step closer to giving them the justice they deserve.” (FOX WGHP)
Hagan is also on the record as saying:
“Years ago, thousands of African American farmers were found to have been unfairly discriminated against when applying for loans, credit, and other forms of financial help to ensure their farm’s success. The 2008 Farm Bill passed without adequately addressing the costs required to settle the claims in the Pigford case, and ultimately, help right the injustices these farmers faced so many years ago. This legislation seeks to correct that problem, and ensures the farmers who were discriminated against receive what is fairly due to them.”
Apparently the legislation was correcting that problem for 76,000 more than there actually were. Hagan was applauded for ‘fast tracking’ the legislation by none other than Maxine Waters. From an excellent article covering Pigford, and the attempt to dismantle any questioning of the case, by John Hayward at Human Events, emphasis added:
The “usual suspects” angrily denounced even the slightest hesitation in forking over the money. Here’s the fabulously corrupt Maxine Waters, quoted in an American Thinker piece by Rosslyn Smith:
“I was pleased to join my friend John Boyd of the National Black Farmers Association, and the many Black farmers and their families and friends…to urge the Senate to fund the $1.15 billion settlement owed to these hard working Americans,” said Waters. “I have been working on this issue for almost 15 years, as Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus in the late ‘90s, I worked closely with my CBC colleagues to urge then-Attorney General Janet Reno to waive the statute of limitations so that farmers could redress decades of financial and racial discrimination with the Department of Justice.”
With support from the Obama Administration and with the funding already passed by the House, Waters said, “we now find ourselves waiting on the Senate, which is using procedure as an excuse to further delay and deny justice to these Black farmers. I firmly believe the Senate should make the Black farmers’ settlement a legislative priority, and that they should not recess for mid-term elections until this issue is resolved. I therefore applaud Senator Kay Hagan and some of her colleagues latest efforts to fast track this payment.”
Senator Hagan was quite proud as well:
Hagan on final passage of Pigford funding bill: “Today, we are finally giving our farmers the justice they deserve.” http://bit.ly/hExQH6
— Senator Kay Hagan (@SenatorHagan) November 30, 2010
Obamacare. Abortion. Guns. Now Pigford. The cards are stacking up against Hagan, who is seeking reelection in 2014.
Senate Bill 3838 – A bill to appropriate funds for the final settlement of lawsuits against the Federal Government for discrimination against Black Farmers and to provide relief for discrimination in a credit program of the Department of Agriculture under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.