Interview: King Vows to 'Pull out the Real Truth' About Pigford
Iowa Republican Representative Steve King has been sounding the alarm about fraud in the Pigford black farmers' settlement for close to a decade and has been ruthlessly attacked by settlement advocates as well as nearly every media outlet that covered the story.
When the April 26h edition of the New York Times broke a front-page story about fraud in the settlements that also revealed new details about the direct involvement of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, it was a major development in the multi-billion dollar scandal and signaled the beginning of a new era of investigation into Pigford.
Breitbart News spoke exclusively with the tenacious congressman who also strongly hinted that he would call for hearings into Pigford and the other politically motivated farmers' settlements.
Breitbart News: Congressman King, you've been an outspoken critic of the Pigford and the other, related farmers' settlements. What was your take on the New York Times report?
Rep. King: Well, I'm going to say first that Andrew Breitbart was vindicated and I feel vindicated. I had some applications that were put into my hands as far back as 2002 or 2003--applications that were fraudulent and had been used for the Pigford settlement. Andrew Breitbart picked up evidence like that and drove it through the media, and of course he was excoriated for it. I think he lost some of his credibility for a short period of time, even with places like Fox News. I know that that bothered him that his credibility would be challenged.
The New York Times article makes it clear that we were right all along. When you come out and speak truth sometimes you'll get a lot of arrows fired into your back but now it's time to take some action and follow through and start to shut down the fraud that is Pigford.
Breitbart News: What sort of action?
Rep. King: Well, I'm considering a number of different things. I chair the sub-committee that has oversight over the USDA, so there's one vehicle to take a serious look at the activities of the USDA in regards to these settlements and perhaps to put the brakes on it. I want to be sure that I'm working with the chair of the Agriculture Committee and the chair of the Judiciary Committee because their cooperation is essential to the success of any kind of congressional inquiry.
A number of tools are available. One of them is congressional hearings. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over Eric Holder and the Justice Department and should have oversight into the management of the Judgment Fund; oversight but not direct management of it. The Ag Committee of course has jurisdiction over my sub-committee and over the USDA. We're very well positioned and hopefully in working in cooperation with the two respective chairs, we could start to pull out the real truth about the Pigford and the three other farmers settlement cases.
Breitbart News: You mentioned the Judgment Fund, which is something the New York Times story highlighted--that the Obama administration appeared to have side-stepped Congress and used this fund for billions of dollars that went to these farmers' settlements. I think a lot of people aren't even aware of what the Judgment Fund is or how it functions. Is the Obama administration's use of this fund a concern for you?
Rep. King: Well, the Judgment Fund is essentially a pool of money that nobody has oversight over except the Justice Department and presumably the Executive Branch. An example would be BP's oil spill in the Gulf. They settled with the Justice Department--that money gets rolled into the Judgment fund and then the Executive Branch and Eric Holder, they do what they will with that money. There's no congressional oversight, so that's sidestepping Congress.
Breitbart News: You have no intention of dropping the farmer settlement issue?
Rep. King: No, I have no intention of dropping it. I've been working on this issue for years and the New York Times article answers those who have been claiming that my criticisms were politically motivated. Now we have voices on both ends of the political spectrum who have recognized how corrupt and fraudulent these farmer settlements are; they appear to me to be a cynical effort on the part of the administration just to hand out taxpayer dollars in order to curry favor with certain groups of people. The Obama administration believes that Republicans are afraid to step up and make an issue because their first defense is to call us racists. Of course quite a lot of Republicans who are afraid of being called racist. It's not something that I enjoy, either, but it's something that I experience almost every day.
Breitbart News: You came under heavy attacks and were called a racist by many in the media in 2010 for using the word 'urban' in regard to President Obama and Pigford claims but you were literally talking about people who don't live in rural areas, right?
Rep. King: I was going clearly off of the Webster's definition of urban: somebody that lives in a city area and primarily in a high-population concentration area. It's a simple definition. It was a surprise to me that anybody could take that and twist it into something that said 'black.' But truthfully, Pigford is about writing checks from the federal government and handing them to black people. That is what it's about...I don't see that it changes the subject matter to declare the expression 'urban' to be somehow discriminatory.
I think the Obama administration has long seen these settlements as a carrot and a stick operation to drive a wedge between people; on one hand to declare Republicans to be racist and on the other to get people to identify themselves as memberships in a race category or an ethnic category or gender category, give them a grievance and pay them off. It's a political endeavor on their part, and it strengthens them politically. Of course, they don't mind the country going deeper into debt for dishonest reasons, either.
Breitbart News: Also, the New York Times article had proved you right. It actually mentioned the high-concentration of people filling out forms were urban people.
Rep. King: Clearly it was. And we know that we don't have a lot of farmers in the urban areas but we have a lot of Pigford recipients in the urban areas. The was even a reference in the article about entire apartment buildings having claimants for Pigford, as if they organized the building rather than people that somehow were farmers.
I think if we could get at the real data--that is, the list of the applicants--I think we'd find all kinds of things about the depths of this corruption.