NYT: Breitbart was right about Pigford

posted at 9:21 am on April 26, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It’s rare to get this kind of vindication, so let’s enjoy it in memory of Andrew Breitbart for as long as possible.  For more than two years, Andrew and Lee Stranahan have investigated the Pigford settlement and the fraudulent claims that not only have cost taxpayers billions, but have left the original black farmers who sued the USDA over discrimination in the lurch.  Today the New York Times reports what Andrew and Lee have been saying all along — that the Pigford settlement was a political hack job by Tom Vilsack’s Department of Agriculture, and that it’s a magnet for fraud (via Twitchy):

The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department. But an examination by The New York Times shows that it 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. In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion.

From the start, the claims process prompted allegations of widespread fraud and criticism that its very design encouraged people to lie: because relatively few records remained to verify accusations, claimants were not required to present documentary evidence that they had been unfairly treated or had even tried to farm. Agriculture Department reviewers found reams of suspicious claims, from nursery-school-age children and pockets of urban dwellers, sometimes in the same handwriting with nearly identical accounts of discrimination.

Yet those concerns were played down as the compensation effort grew. Though the government has started requiring more evidence to support some claims, even now people who say they were unfairly denied loans can collect up to $50,000 with little documentation.

As a senator, Barack Obama supported expanding compensation for black farmers, and then as president he pressed for $1.15 billion to pay those new claims. Other groups quickly escalated their demands for similar treatment. In a letter to the White House in September 2009, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a leading Hispanic Democrat, threatened to mount a campaign “outside the Beltway” if Hispanic farmers were not compensated.

Career litigators, who had successfully defended the Agriculture Department all the way to the Supreme Court, were aghast:

The payouts pitted Mr. Vilsack and other political appointees against career lawyers and agency officials, who argued that the legal risks did not justify the costs.

Beyond that, they said it was legally questionable to sidestep Congress and compensate the Hispanic and female farmers out of a special Treasury Department account, known as the Judgment Fund. The fund is restricted to payments of court-approved judgments and settlements, as well as to out-of-court settlements in cases where the government faces imminent litigation that it could lose. Some officials argued that tapping the fund for the farmers set a bad precedent, since most had arguably never contemplated suing and might not have won if they had.

Be sure to read it all, but it’s difficult to argue with Byron York’s assessment of the story:

https://twitter.com/ByronYork/status/327724337232760832

Perhaps now that the New York Times has exposed this, a few lawmakers might get shamed into doing something about it.  That would really put a smile on Andrew’s face.

Addendum: In early 2011, I interviewed Andrew about Pigford — or rather, asked him a question and then filmed his answer for 20 minutes.  I also live-blogged a press conference Andrew and Lee conducted at CPAC that year, which included some of the original litigants who ended up getting run over by Ag in the settlement structure.

Update: Added “in the lurch” in the first paragraph, which somehow got forgotten when I posted it.  Thanks to Jules F for the catch.

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or rather, asked him a question and then filmed his answer for 20 minutes.

Damn, I miss Andrew. :-)

Abby Adams on April 26, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Damn, I miss Andrew. :-)

Abby Adams on April 26, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Me too. That was awesome.

Ed Morrissey on April 26, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Just another multi-billion-dollar “reparations” scam by the Obama administration.

Compared to the trillion-dollar “stimulus” scam, it’s small potatoes.

Our government is run by liars and thieves, starting at the top.

AZCoyote on April 26, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Breitbart was right about a lot of things….

ToddPA on April 26, 2013 at 9:29 AM

i wonder what Alan West thinks?

renalin on April 26, 2013 at 9:29 AM

the truth has a way of coming through. WTG AB.

Pigford, aka “reparations”

ted c on April 26, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Breitbart, grab Reagan and Thatcher and come back.

Bishop on April 26, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Bishop on April 26, 2013 at 9:32 AM

No kiddin’. We need them. NOW.

kingsjester on April 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Hmm, maybe I’m a black farmer that could get a settlement. Who do I call?

Midas on April 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Breitbart, grab Reagan and Thatcher and come back.

Bishop on April 26, 2013 at 9:32 AM

If only.

*sigh*

Midas on April 26, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Rest in peace, Andrew.

I won’t click on the fishwrap’s link, but do they even mention Andrew and lee’s work in their story? I doubt it.

Ward Cleaver on April 26, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Native Americans? Has Senator Warren heard about this?

IlikedAUH2O on April 26, 2013 at 9:35 AM

90,000 apply and just how many farmers are in the U.S.? Were these all container gardeners (farmers).

tim c on April 26, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Really miss that guy. I got to see his awesome last speech at CPAC. Outside of talk radio, I can’t think of a more fearless media figure for the cause.

crrr6 on April 26, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Next thing you will tell me is that banks will give poor blacks home loans for any reason.

sentinelrules on April 26, 2013 at 9:41 AM

i wonder what Alan West thinks?

renalin on April 26, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Heh, that was my first thought, as well.

herm2416 on April 26, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Reparations…It’s what’s for Breakfast!

workingclass artist on April 26, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Native Americans? Has Senator Warren heard about this?

IlikedAUH2O on April 26, 2013 at 9:35 AM

heh!

more wampum!

ted c on April 26, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Franklin Delano “Frank” Raines should be brought back to compensate all the victims of Bush era predatory lending. We need to start writing checks to all those who were ripped off by the obscene mortgages being made before 2008, pronto.

IlikedAUH2O on April 26, 2013 at 9:46 AM

what does Shirley Sherrod think????

ted c on April 26, 2013 at 9:49 AM

I haven’t finished reading the whole thing yet but saw this statement, which kind of sums it up:

“Never underestimate the fear of being called a racist.”

scalleywag on April 26, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Does growing weed in the 60′s count as farming? Do you think Cheech and Chong will let me represent them?

Maybe there’s a bailout for California after all.

NoPain on April 26, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Funny how the NYT is presenting this as a big scoop or something.
Real investigative work on their part.

Breitbart folks may want remind them about plagiarism.

Jabberwock on April 26, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Does anybody know if libreeordie has gotten $50,000 or has applied for this reparation?

sentinelrules on April 26, 2013 at 9:56 AM

If Breitbart had lived, Obama would not have been reelected. His fearless defense of conservative principles, and fearless offense against liberal travesties were truly impressive. I wish we had more of him. His takeover of the Anthony Weiner press conference was amazing.

Qzsusy on April 26, 2013 at 9:58 AM

For more than two years, Andrew and Lee Stranahan have investigated the Pigford settlement and the fraudulent claims that not only have cost taxpayers billions, but have left the original black farmers who sued the USDA over discrimination.

Left them what?

KS Rex on April 26, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Rather than curtailing the program, it should be expanded to include gay, lesbian, queer, and questioning farmers, as well as undocumented farm laborers. /lib

KS Rex on April 26, 2013 at 10:07 AM

His last tea party event was here in Tucson. It was great. I miss him.

wolly4321 on April 26, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Perhaps now that the New York Times has exposed this, a few lawmakers might get shamed into doing something about it.

Huh? Shame? That will be the day. Just ask that idiot in the White House.

GarandFan on April 26, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Breitbart, grab Reagan and Thatcher and come back.

Bishop on April 26, 2013 at 9:32 AM

And please ask Tony Snow to come along too.

Happy Nomad on April 26, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Rather than curtailing the program, it should be expanded to include gay, lesbian, queer, and questioning farmers, as well as undocumented farm laborers. /lib

KS Rex on April 26, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Well why not? I read somewhere that a sub-set of the amnesty grab being engineered by Hispanics involves getting provisions written into the immigration reform bill that gay couples can’t be separated by deportation.

Happy Nomad on April 26, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Does anybody know if libreeordie has gotten $50,000 or has applied for this reparation?

sentinelrules on April 26, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Libfree once found a potato that had slipped under the cabinet and it had started to grow “eyes”, so yes I’d say he’s a farmer and entitled to reparations.

Bishop on April 26, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Reparations…It’s what’s for Breakfast!

workingclass artist on April 26, 2013 at 9:44 AM

When someone talks to me about reparations, I tell them about my great-great-great-grandfather who was a Union soldier, killed in action in Virginia, and how his family’s farm was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

“Favor returned. Thanks for playing.”

CurtZHP on April 26, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Me too. That was awesome.

Nobody could do that just quite like Andrew, God love him. I hope he’s raising hell up in heaven, too.

Bob's Kid on April 26, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Fundamentally change America…is this impeachable?

d1carter on April 26, 2013 at 10:22 AM

For more than two years, Andrew and Lee Stranahan have investigated the Pigford settlement and the fraudulent claims that not only have cost taxpayers billions, but have left the original black farmers who sued the USDA over discrimination.

Ditto KS Rex – huh?

If Breitbart had lived, Obama would not have been reelected.

Qzsusy on April 26, 2013 at 9:58 AM

No offense, but you’re dreaming if you think Breitbart could have held back the swarms of looters that kept Obama in the White House last November. He certainly couldn’t have overcome all the stupid red (nominally) voters who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Romney. Sorry, but I don’t think even Breitbart had that much power.

GWB on April 26, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Pig-ford…. aptly named.

ultracon on April 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM

But hey, the election is over so we can let a little truth come out, right? Let’s get to the bottom of the green energy loans and Benghazi, while we’re at it.

bflat879 on April 26, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Hey, I tried to grow a Chia Pet. It failed, miserably, but still, I’m probably as Native American as Granny Warren. I want my share. It’s only fair.

bofh on April 26, 2013 at 11:01 AM

NYT commits random act of journalism.

jediwebdude on April 26, 2013 at 11:15 AM

When will all of us North Atlantic Islanders get to pick up some checks?

Sheeeesh.

Shaughnessy on April 26, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Hey! I’m part Cherokee and part Seminole, and I dug a hole in my backyard. Wheres my monies?

44Magnum on April 26, 2013 at 11:24 AM

What’s up with the quote of myself? i didn’t do that. HA, we need edit capability!!

44Magnum on April 26, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Is there anything Breitbart was wrong about?

slickwillie2001 on April 26, 2013 at 11:39 AM

90,000 apply and just how many farmers are in the U.S.? Were these all container gardeners (farmers).

tim c on April 26, 2013 at 9:40 AM

The windowsill or the North 40, does it really matter? Farmers all.

slickwillie2001 on April 26, 2013 at 11:42 AM

God Bless Andrew Breitbart.
God, we’ll give you 535 scumbags to bring Andrew back.

RovesChins on April 26, 2013 at 11:52 AM

So I still am asking who killed Breitbart?

Of all the conspiracy theorists no one cares about this one? I am truly amazed that everyone just accepts that a man with this many important, influencial and cold-blooded enemies just dropped dead so young.

Of all people Breitbart just drops dead? And his friends say “sure why not?”

I’m not buying that.

Maybe for those who knew him the thought is too painful. But he had too much dirt on the worst of the worst in government to just take the word of anyone that it was a natural death. He wasn’t 80.

petunia on April 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Awesomely awesome.

John the Libertarian on April 26, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Damn, I miss Andrew. :-)

Abby Adams on April 26, 2013 at 9:24 AM

.
Me too. That was awesome.

Ed Morrissey on April 26, 2013 at 9:27 AM

.
DITTOS.
.
If there is anyone here that Abby’s and Ed‘s comments DON’T speak for, you’re in the wrong place.

listens2glenn on April 26, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Damn, I miss Andrew. :-)

Abby Adams on April 26, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Me to ….. every time I was flipping through the channels and I saw his face I would stop and pay attention cause very often it was going to be something that would set the liberals hair on fire …he made me laugh and cheer

Aggie95 on April 26, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Breitbart, grab Reagan and Thatcher and come back.

Bishop on April 26, 2013 at 9:32 AM

.
And please ask Tony Snow to come along too.

Happy Nomad on April 26, 2013 at 10:07 AM

.
Them too.

listens2glenn on April 26, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Breitbart, grab Reagan and Thatcher and come back.

Bishop on April 26, 2013 at 9:32 AM

*standing ovation*

kim roy on April 26, 2013 at 1:30 PM

So I still am asking who killed Breitbart?

Of all the conspiracy theorists no one cares about this one? I am truly amazed that everyone just accepts that a man with this many important, influencial and cold-blooded enemies just dropped dead so young.

Of all people Breitbart just drops dead? And his friends say “sure why not?”

I’m not buying that.

Maybe for those who knew him the thought is too painful. But he had too much dirt on the worst of the worst in government to just take the word of anyone that it was a natural death. He wasn’t 80.

petunia on April 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Let me feed this a little. It does seem odd and what is also odd is that the coroner who did his autopsy died in odd circumstances.

UK linky

Of course, they also try to include “infowars” and Alex Jones in there to discredit any questioning.

Lots of things happen. Lots of people cover things up. Look at F&F and Benghazi, just for two recent events. If one wants to go further back, think of Alexander Litvinenko.

If it really was what you say, we’ll never know. No one has the stomach for it and that level of corruption is very strong.

Either way, it’s too bad – he was way too young and no one has even attempted to fill the void he left.

kim roy on April 26, 2013 at 1:40 PM

He was killed but he lives.

Schadenfreude on April 26, 2013 at 2:23 PM

kim roy on April 26, 2013 at 1:40 PM

Breitbart had a bad heart and people close to him knew about it more than a year before his death.

The article you linked ends with “debunked”.

gh on April 26, 2013 at 2:36 PM

I hate what lefties and media did to Andrew. Now they accept he was right doesn’t change anything. We knew he was right all along.

antisocial on April 26, 2013 at 2:37 PM

I hate to blow my own horn, but I’m lying. YES I DO!

AHH-OOOOOOOO-GAH!

Almost three years ago, exhausted from the evening and having the next day off, I signed on before going to bed, and followed a detail from the Washington Examiner about how much money the freshly fired Shirley Sherrod had gotten in the years-long Pigford Farms class action lawsuit dating back to the Reagan Administration.

The story led me to search the C-SPAN Video Library for more information. To paraphrase sportscaster Curt Gowdy, I could not believe what I just saw. I didn’t move for another five hours before completing the above blog post, “Don’t Worry About $hirley $herrod. She Doesn’t Need That Government Job. The Government’s Already Given Her Thirteen Million Dollars.”

The usual leftist sheep started bleating on cue, echoing the NAACP & Media Matters’ blather about how Breitbart got her fired by falsely accusing her of racism. Of course, that was and is pure compost. Sherrod, according to her own contemporaneous account, was fired as she was driving. She got a cell phone call in the middle of the afternoon by someone at the Dept. of Agriculture who feared that Sherrod had become radioactive, and the video would go viral on Fox News’ Glenn Beck show. As it turned out, Beck didn’t savage Sherrod, he stood up for her character, and implied that Breitbart was deceptive in the way he presented the edited portions of the video. This caused a rift between the two, who collaborated on the ACORN videos shot by James O’Keefe.

What people didn’t fully appreciate before it became a journalistic focus of Breitbart’s Big Government site is that the fraud of the Pigford settlement had been an open secret on Capitol Hill for years, with Iowa Congressman Steve King and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley going to their respective bodies’ floor to warn that in practice, the settlement was a free-for-all that had to be stopped in its tracks before it became a multibillion-dollar money pit. That seemed to be a priority of Secretary Vilsack, who held a conference less named “Urban Stimulus” in conjunction with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. Vilsack, in a Q & A session, explains to a black woman that the time for making Pigford claims had been extended, and that more money for settlements would be forthcoming from the Feds. IOW, “Come and git it!”

Something that I hinted at in my blog (but didn’t have enough facts to fully explore) is the fact that former Iowa Governor Vilsack — who famously ended his 2008 Presidential campaign and endorsed Hillary Clinton shortly before the HRC camp started helping Vilsack pay his debt — hired a woman for a Dept. of Agriculture job shortly after awarding her $13,000,000.00. Nothing fishy about that, right? Right.

I’ve had a lousy week for personal reasons, but this made me smile wide. Welcome to the party, New York Times. YOU’RE LATE.

L.N. Smithee on April 26, 2013 at 2:49 PM

No offense, but you’re dreaming if you think Breitbart could have held back the swarms of looters that kept Obama in the White House last November. He certainly couldn’t have overcome all the stupid red (nominally) voters who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Romney. Sorry, but I don’t think even Breitbart had that much power.

GWB on April 26, 2013 at 10:28 AM

I agree. And wishcasting for Reagan & Thatcher to come back wouldn’t change anything anyway.
The simple fact is is that America has run its course. We are full of spoiled POS brats of all political stripes & colors & nothing, NOTHING is going to stop the train wreck of armageddon when this country finally fades into a socialist/full blown commie nation from hell.
Sorry. But it’s what I see. Bcs no one wants to rip off all of the useless band aids that have been passed as ‘laws’ & ‘bills’ etc. that are UnConstitutional & simply play by the book.
I’m reading Barofsky’s book about TARP & his idealism is pathetic. I’m glad he wrote the book. But he really has no clue. He simply never seems to understand (so far) that the Federal Govt has no damned business in playing these accounting games in the 1st place.

Of all people Breitbart just drops dead? And his friends say “sure why not?”

I’m not buying that.

Maybe for those who knew him the thought is too painful. But he had too much dirt on the worst of the worst in government to just take the word of anyone that it was a natural death. He wasn’t 80.

petunia on April 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Far as I understand, he had heart & blood pressure problems. Yes. You CAN drop dead at 40. It happens. My husband’s father, a pretty healthy man, with the same problem as Brietbart had, dropped dead at 50. $hit happens.

Badger40 on April 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Breitbart had a bad heart and people close to him knew about it more than a year before his death.

The article you linked ends with “debunked”.

gh on April 26, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Did I say I agreed with it? I’m just discussing. Thanks, though.

kim roy on April 26, 2013 at 3:07 PM

How about we just give $50,000 to everybody who isn’t a white male?

rndmusrnm on April 26, 2013 at 4:29 PM

God Bless this man. He will be missed. Sorely.

avagreen on April 26, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Breitbart, grab Reagan and Thatcher and come back.

Bishop on April 26, 2013 at 9:32 AM

And please ask Tony Snow to come along too.

Happy Nomad on April 26, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Dream Team.

IrishEyes on April 26, 2013 at 9:27 PM

How about we just give $50,000 to everybody who isn’t a white male?

rndmusrnm on April 26, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Same thing.

IrishEyes on April 26, 2013 at 9:27 PM

I miss Andrew Breitbart

ccrosby on April 26, 2013 at 11:50 PM

Bollocks

The best way to honor Andrew Breitbart is to find out who killed him. It’s easy to figure why he was killed, but the who of the matter is something still to be determined. While the White House is prime suspect, I can think of all lot of people and organizations who would have wanted him out of the way.

And I’ll point out, there has yet to be any public accounting of his supposed history of health problems that would have led to his death and the damning video that he promised has never been released.

sartana on April 27, 2013 at 8:24 PM

Breitbart had a bad heart and people close to him knew about it more than a year before his death.

gh on April 26, 2013 at 2:36 PM

This is just something that was asserted after his murder. It beggars belief to think that Breitbart had serious health issues, yet no one among his family or friends and allies in media would have mentioned this before his death. There has not been a single attempt to put into the pubic record for posterity’s sake any detailed accounting the issues that would have led to natural death.

In fact, I heard first hand one of his friends tell a bald face lie about Andrew’s supposed ill health. It was Stephen K Bannon, host of the Victory Sessions radio show, a show which Andrew appeared on often and at times even hosted. Bannon was being interviewed on other topics and was surprised by a question on Andrew’s sudden death and the conspiracy theories that had grown in the wake of it. Bannon was obviously not expecting the question and was taken aback, stumbled for a few seconds and then blurted out that Andrew had heart problems, didn’t follow his doctor’s advice by losing the weight he was told he needed to lose and died because of self-neglect and that should end the discussion.

However, it’s simply not true that Andrew didn’t lose weight and get his physical health in order. The very day that he was announced dead, I was listening to a local show in Los Angeles on KABC radio hosted by a friend of Breitbart’s, John Philips. Phillips related to his panel that he last saw Breitbart just a couple weeks before his death at a party in LA, and everyone there remarked at how they’d never seen him looking better- he’d lost a lot of weight and looked years younger and was vital and full of energy. Phillips was shocked at the news of his death and stated that he’d had no idea of any health problems Breitbart was having.

If people who knew him closely want to close this matter, they should make public his history of health problems and offer details and proof of this. Otherwise, people are correct to make the assumptions which seem obvious in this instance. The fact that no effort has been made to put the facts out there speaks for itself.

And the video that Breitbart promised the world has yet to be released.

sartana on April 27, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Damn, I miss Andrew. :-)

Ditto, Friend!

Conservative_Hippie on April 29, 2013 at 9:50 AM