Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and three Republican lawmakers voiced opposite views Wednesday on the proposed $1.2 billion Pigford II settlement regarding past USDA discrimination against black farmers. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) charged that making a $1.2 billion deal without a fraud investigation and without either congressional or court approval is a prime example of “how votes get bought.”
At issue is the mystifying fact that there are over 94,000 claimants (black farmers) whereas the Department of Agriculture and sworn testimony by John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association, both indicate that there are only 18,000 black farmers. Even were all of these claimants were actually discriminated against by the Department (an impossibility), it would mean that 80% of the claims are fraudulent.
King along with Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) charged in a press conference that 75% or more of the Pigford discrimination claims may be fraudulent. Bachmann listed but did not name three people “prepared to testify before a congressional committee concerning fraud they have witnessed under Pigford.” She said these potential witnesses include “a black farmer who was an original litigant against the U.S. Department of Agriculture” and two USDA employees who worked in the South on USDA farm loans.
Rep. Bachman said the black farmer “is personally aware of homeless people who have received Pigford payments and attorneys who have trolled throughout neighborhoods signing up claimants that were known to have never farmed” and “federal government employees who recruited illegitimate Pigford claims and took a kick-back for securing them money.” She said a USDA employee responsible for processing Pigford claims is willing to testify that “He saw numerous instances where multiple forms were filled out with the same identical handwriting, same identical narrative, and same identical content, with only the names changed. . . He believes that 80% of Pigford claims were probably fraudulent.”
The initial settlement dates (Pigford I) from the Clinton administration, when it was estimated that two to three thousand potential claims might ensue under Track A, which provided for liquidated damages of $50,000 each. Over 22,000 claims were filed; 13,348 of those claims were actually approved.
Pigford took on new life when the Democrats took over Congress in 2006. A new claim period was established because of allegations that tens of thousands of black farmers did not have the opportunity to file claims during the initial settlement period. The suspected fraud in the settlement claims was big in the blogsphere this July when it came to light that Sherrod and her husband were the largest recipients of federal funds, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal government for alleged discrimination by the USDA officials, including significant amounts for "pain and suffering."
Rep. Bachman said all legitimate discrimination claims must be paid “because there should not be discrimination against any American.” But she also said that “there must be an investigation before one more dime of taxpayer money is spent.”
This Democrat congress will obviously not investigate this fraud being perpetrated on the tax payer since blacks as a voting block support their party 9 to 1. This is just another reason to vote against any and all Democrats in November.