In the pantheon of civic behavior, ex-politicians leaving DC to become lobbyists to advocate on behalf of private interests against taxpayer interests is right up there among the most undesirable.
What’s even worse? When a former Secretary of Agriculture – who is African-American – leaves his post and now spends his time trolling for and representing litigants suing the USDA citing discrimination against African-Americans during the time he was in charge of the agency.
Why isn’t he suing himself, and paying the claims out of his own pocket? Instead, the USDA has admitted “no wrongdoing” (i.e. no one has been fired for the wholesale discrimination) and the taxpayer is completely and exclusively on the hook.
As Big Government will continue to show over the next few weeks, Pigford is a universe of its own filled with crooked politicians, cover-ups, greedy attorneys, and crime rings. And one of the brightest stars in the Pigford universe is Mike Espy:
MIKE ESPY (Alphonso Michael Espy) is the former Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, and a former U.S. Representative from the 2nd District of Mississippi. He currently works as a private sector attorney, counselor, and agricultural advisor, having his own law and consulting firms: Mike Espy, PLLC, and AE Agritrade, Inc.
Prior to his appointment as USDA Secretary, Mike Espy served for seven years as a Member of Congress. While there, he served his bi-racial district as a member of the Budget and Agriculture Committees.
Before his election to Congress, Mike worked as a trial lawyer and served as Assistant Attorney General.
In 1997, Espy was indicted on 30 criminal charges of receiving gifts from food companies. Tyson Foods, the largest poultry producer in the U.S., was found guilty of paying Espy more than $12,000 in illegal gifts and was fined $6 million for the transgression. In another case, Sun Diamond was fined $1.5 million for giving Espy $6,000 in illegal gifts.
Espy, however, was cleared of all 30 charges, as the prosecutors were unable to prove that the gifts were linked to any official action.
Regardless of his indictment and acquittal, Mike Espy had an incredible record of accomplishment: a seven-year congressman and the highest-ranking African-American in Bill Clinton’s cabinet.
What is most interesting about Espy is that his two-year tenure as the Secretary of Agriculture spanned from 1993-1994. Why? Because the Pigford lawsuit covers a period of discrimination within the agency from 1983-1997, over 13 percent of that period Espy was responsible for that agency, which puts Espy’s liability at about $366,665,750 (given that the total price tag for Pigford I and II is at $2.75 billion.)
So how does civilian Mike Espy spend his days now? He owns a law firm that specializes in representing and rounding up Pigford litigants. In effect, he is suing the very agency he ran, with charges of discrimination, and making a bundle off it.
Excerpted from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, February 4, 1998:
Espy is a member of the Jackson, Miss. law firm Crosthwait Terney PLLC, which is one of seven legal groups representing about 330 black farmers now suing Glickman and USDA for $2 billion.
Espy spoke to the group about their role in the lawsuit and periodically answered their questions through out the four-hour meeting. But as a whole he offered them little optimism about their future in agriculture.
“You have to fight now!,” said Espy, urging the group to join the legal effort and at least the potential for a financial settlement. “You can’t afford to wait another 5, 6 or 7 years.”
The farmers may have valid claims against several different USDA agencies that date as far back as 1983, Washington attorney Alex Pires told the group. Pires filed the original lawsuit in behalf of the 14-black farmers alleging discrimination.
And to the Washington Post, March 03, 1999:
Although he did not speak at the hearing, Espy, who has worked with some of the lawyers in the case, said the settlement should have included provisions to pay back the privately held loans of black farmers who struggled due to USDA rejections.
There are some farmers who have been terribly discriminated against by the USDA. They’ve suffered tremendous losses and pain and anguish, and they deserve to be compensated…. Whether the $ 50,000 is enough or not depends on individual circumstances,” said Espy, who was the first black agriculture secretary. He headed USDA in 1993 and 1994.
To help funnel clients to his lucrative Pigford class action mill, Espy has joined forces with the Black Farmers and Agriculturist Association (BFAA) who we detail in our Pigford report. They are advocates for black farmers, rounding up claimants in dozens of states, and who were crucial in getting the Pigford lawsuit moved forward and funded.
Mike Espy, Esquire and Morgan & Morgan, P.A. are currently working in conjunction with a Black Farmers advocacy group, The Black Farmers and Agriculturist Association, to represent those farmers who were denied justice by having their claims rejected in the previous litigation. We are accepting all potential cases for evaluation; please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-877-667-4265 or complete an on-line case evaluation.
And apparently, Espy’s trolling work, along with the BFAA which funnels clients his way, is a winning combination to deliver Espy thousands and thousands of clients:
“You are involved in the second coming of the Pigford lawsuit,” Espy said. “I hope to have all of you as clients come January.”
“This is your 40 acres and a mule,” Espy said. “We’re already at 15,000 clients and we’re going to get more.”
So there you have it, in his own words. Mike Espy has at least 15,000 clients, all in the Pigford class action suit with a minimum payout of $50,000 of taxpayer dollars, against the very USDA he headed for two years, during which time those under his leadership discriminated against every black farmer they encountered.
Big Government has put a call into Mr. Espy’s law office to get comment on his Pigford work, but we have yet to hear back.