I’ve often said that the Pigford scandal isn’t a partisan issue. This is about fraud and corruption and while there are many Democrats involved, one of the biggest promoters of Pigford has been Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. Grassley was the Senate sponsor of the Pigford Claims Recovery Act that extended Pigford to another 70,000+ claimants.
Even more troubling than Senator Grassley’s support of the Pigford Legislation, however, has been his explicit support of “Dr.” John Boyd.
Boyd is head of the National Black Farmers Assocuation, a group that he runs out of his house in Virginia. Boyd claims to represent ‘the farmers’ but in fact, he’s personally profited from the Pigford settlement to the tune of over $1,000,000. Boyd aggressively plays the race card against his critics, including Andrew Breitbart and this site
In 2009, attorney Rose Sanders – a major advocate
of Pigford, mind you – said this
about “Dr.” John Boyd...
Less than two years ago, I attended meetings by John Boyd where he and his attorneys were soliciting contracts from hundreds of eligible and ineligible claimants before the Pigford II legislation was passed in Congress. These contracts obligated citizens to pay 1/3 of their recovery to John Boyd’s attorneys plus expenses. Expenses had to be paid even if the claimant was unsuccessful. I objected to these outrageous contracts.
For more on Boyd, you can watch this clip from Pigford Blues about Boyd’s Institute and Doctorate
and you can also read this post that shows how Boyd manipulates the press
I contacted the office of Republican Senator Chuck Grassley today about his support for John Boyd. Here’s the response I got from Grassley’s press secretary, Beth Levine.
Senator Grassley’s support for Pigford II isn’t about John Boyd, it’s about the thousands of black farmers who were unable to have their cases heard before a neutral arbiter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the courts and the Congress have all said that these farmers deserve to have their cases heard based on the merits. Pigford II simply enables the farmers, or those who attempted to farm, to plead their case in front of a neutral party and be judged on the merits. The law was also specifically written with extra protections to help ensure that fraud is kept out of the program. Those changes have been made to the settlement agreement that will enhance the Department’s ability to fight fraud including requiring adjudicators to be a truly neutral party; allowing that neutral adjudicator to ask the claimant for additional documentation if he or she suspects any fraud; requiring the claimants’ attorneys to certify that there is evidentiary support for the claims; and requiring the Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the Department’s internal controls and audit the process in adjudicating the claims. (emphasis mine.)
This is all standard runaround that Pigford II somehow has higher standards – and it’s not true.
A person who is willing commit perjury – as they are being trained to do in meetings across the country
– can still file a claim and easily
collect a $50,000 check because the system is so simple to game.
I’m willing to fly out to Washington and go over all of this with Senator Grassley and I’ll bring whistleblowers like Jimmy Dismuke
and Eddie Slaughter
with me. This stuff is not difficult to prove...if Senator Grassley will only listen.
But that’s not the point.
I wasn’t asking about Senator Grassley’s support for Pigford II. I was asking about his support for Boyd. And despite her claim that “Senator Grassley’s support for Pigford II isn’t about John Boyd” – look at what Grassley said about John Boyd from Grassley’s own website...
I also want to thank John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), for his help in getting us where we are today. Without his dedication to this issue, I don’t think we’d be passing this legislation today. My hope is that the Department will work with groups like NBFA to conduct outreach to the black community and claimants. No one wants to see fraud in the administration of these claims and stakeholder groups such as John’s can be a valuable resource to getting that message out.
I pointed this out to Ms. Levine – here was her response.
John Boyd and several other people were very good advocates for the black farmers.
And there’s another aspect to Senator Grassley’s advocacy of Boyd that is even more troubling.
There's an incident from Boyd's past that is rarely discussed -- Boyd himself never seems to mention it anymore. Boyd filed an outrageous suit for $10,000,000 against the USDA in 1999 alleging racism against people who worked there. I'm redacting their names because the charges are awful and there's no evidence whatsoever of their guilt.
WASHINGTON (AP) - "A leader of the black farmers who recently settled with the Agriculture Department over past discrimination has filed a $10 million lawsuit in U.S. District Court accusing a top agency aide of using a racial slur.
"John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, filed the lawsuit Wednesday. It names Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman; (and two others).
"Boyd contends that at the end of a May 27 conference call with (the USDA, a lawyer) used the (n-word) in referring to him.
"An inspector general for the agency investigated and concluded that insufficient evidence supports Boyd's claim. Boyd likened the investigation to 'the fox watching the henhouse.' "
"Insufficient evidence"? This is pretty cut and dry – it’s a very specific accusation. It was either said, or not. If not, then Boyd was lying
. I’ve looked into the story, spoken to some of the people involved and I personally believe that Boyd made the story up.
The idea that USDA -- and Sen. Grassley -- would want John Boyd anywhere NEAR their agency or its employees after this incident is shocking.
Senator Grassley owes us a better explanation about why he’s promoting “Dr.” John Boyd. His office number in Washington is 202
-224-3744. His Twitter account is @ChuckGrassley
. Please let us know what he has to say.