The New York Times has vindicated the news sense of Andrew Breitbart and years of Breitbart News coverage of the Pigford scandal with a front page, above the fold blockbuster of investigative journalism that adds new details about the fraud in the USDA farmer settlements and the key role that Barack Obama has played in Pigford dating back to his days as a Senator.
Andrew Breitbart worked tirelessly to expose the Pigford fraud scheme only to have the clear evidence of manipulation by politicians and plaintiff lawyers ignored by the mainstream media. The story involved politicians and lawyers hijacking a lawsuit by black farmers against the USDA designed to make up for years of discrimination and turning it into a multi-billion dollar fraud where people claiming to have ‘attempted to farm’ were able to collect $50,000 checks with no proof. The Obama administration expanded the program for Native Americans, Hispanics, and women, using the same low “attempted to farm” standard that invited massive, undetectable fraud.
The Times piece was written by a team led by Sharon LaFraniere, who worked on the story for months and according to the article “was based on thousands of pages of court and confidential government documents, as well as interviews with dozens of claimants, lawyers, former and current government officials and others involved in the cases over the past 14 years.”
Here are some highlights from the article, including a number of details not previously reported:
This 2008 article from the San Francisco Chronicle profiles Tony West, who was then the California finance co-chair for the Obama campaign and is described as an “Obama power broker.” West, a deep Obama campaign insider, oversaw the settlements for the Obama administration.
Mr. Clinton asked Carol Willis, then a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee who was known for his expertise in black voter turnout, to get involved. Mr. Willis said the president wanted to make sure his home state, Arkansas, benefited.
During the 2008 elections, the Times details how the Obama administration used Pigford for election purposes. From the Times:
..legislators from both parties, including Mr. Obama as a senator in 2007, sponsored bills to grant the late filers relief.
Mr. Boyd said Mr. Obama’s support led him to throw the backing of his 109,000-member black farmers’ association behind the Obama presidential primary campaign. Hilary Shelton, the N.A.A.C.P.’s chief lobbyist, said Mr. Obama’s stance helped establish him as a defender of the concerns of rural African-American communities.
And the Times makes it clear that others felt the settlements were buying off special interests. A professor from U.C. Berkley testified for the government that there was no pattern of discrimination by the USDA against Native American farmers.
Professor Rausser was astounded when, with both sides gearing up for trial in late 2009, the government began settlement negotiations. “If they had gone to trial, the government would have prevailed,” he said.
“It was just a joke,” he added. “I was so disgusted. It was simply buying the support of the Native-Americans.”