The hours of interviews I've done with the key people involved in the Pigford settlement are a treasure trove of information about what really happened in this multi-billion dollar debacle. Because of the holidays and then the tragic shooting in Tuscon, I wanted to hold off on releasing details about some of the major news that we're been able to uncover -- but at the risk of creating PiggieFatigue, here's part one of a serious allegation that a U.S. Congressman knowingly was complicit in covering up fraud.
In this bombshell video clip, Georgia farmer Eddie Slaughter alleges that he told his congressman, Congressional Black Caucus member Sanford Bishop, about fraud in Pigford on multiple occasions and that Bishop responded that Slaughter should be quiet because "they'll shut this thing down."
This isn't an isolated incident with Congressman Bishop.
Late last year, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Rep. Bishop had awarded college scholarships, intended for needy kids, to members of his own family:
Records from the group show that Bishop, a nine-term congressman who is active in the Congressional Black Caucus and who's up for re-election this year, apparently awarded scholarships to his stepdaughter and his niece in 2003 and 2005.
The paper also reported that Rep. Bishop directed an earmark to a company where his stepdaughter worked:
Last year, he was accused of steering funds he had secured as "earmarks" as a member of the House Appropriations Committee to a Muscogee County youth group that employed stepdaughter Aayesha Owens Reese and her husband, Stephen Reese.
Bishop said at the time that he had no idea his stepdaughter worked for the Muscogee County Junior Marshal program, and that when he did learn about it, he immediately directed her to quit her job. At the time, Owens Reese also was apparently working for the Fulton County district attorney's office.
I've contacted Congressman Bishop's office with an interview request and plan to get a response when I'm in Washington in the next few weeks.