As the Pigford investigation continues, it is important to note that we have demonstrated in our Pigford Report that there is massive fraud in the Pigford I settlement, but you have yet to hear a pro-Pigford politician admit to that fact. To this day, President Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack maintains there are, at most, 10 cases of fraud. Big Government showed two videos of black farmers alleging that Congressman Sanford Bishop not only knew about the fraud in Pigford I, but also instructed the black farmers who brought the information to light to keep quiet as long as “the money was flowing.”
It’s important to note that Eddie Slaughter is not just a black farmer, he is the Vice President of one of the largest black farmer advocacy groups in America, the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.
After seeing the BigGovernment.com interview, Congressman Bishop, clearly upset with the video revelation, made the following admission to his local paper, the Albany Herald yesterday:
“Yes, I am aware that there is fraud in the program, that’s why anti-fraud provisions were written into the settlement,” Bishop said Thursday morning “My job was to help secure funding for constituents who had been discriminated against by the USDA. It’s not my job to monitor fraud in the program. I can’t assume responsibility for fraud. You can’t lay that at my feet.”
“This is ridiculous. It’s not my job to determine who is a qualified claimant or not, or who gets paid or who doesn’t get paid.”
“I’ve worked with Eddie Slaughter for more than 15 years.”
We now have an admission from a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and a co-sponsor of Pigford legislation, that he was not only told by a black farmer that the Pigford I payout process was “rife with fraud,” but also that as a member of Congress there was nothing he could do about it.
A Member of Congress claims to have no access to mechanisms for congressional oversight of congressionally appropriated billions and that’s not national news?
Did Rep. Sanford Bishop ever think to call the Department of Justice to demand an investigation into the billion-dollar taxpayer fraud that was taking place in the settlement that was one of his signature issues?
“Don’t lay that at my feet.” Bishop now says.
What makes Bishop’s incredulous expression of non-responsibility even more troubling is the fact that in 2005, he joined fellow Congressional Black Caucus member Artur Davis (D-AL) as an original co-sponsor of the ”African-American Farmers Benefits Relief Act of 2005″ which would add 55,000 more claimants into Pigford. Not only was Bishop not blowing the whistle on existing fraud, he was actively working to send his constituents back for another fraud-filled “bite of the apple,” costing U.S. taxpayers billions.
Representative Bishop told the Albany Herald, “Yes, I am aware that there is fraud in the program, that’s why anti-fraud provisions were written into the settlement.”
Let’s talk about those supposed anti-fraud provisions safeguards in Pigford II. First of all, those provisions were put in after Reps. Steve King (R-IA), Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) put on press conferences drawing attention to the fraud. These negligible measures granted politicians minimal cover, as Rep. Bishop is perfectly showing.
Also, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, Rep. Bishops’s fellow Congressional Black Caucus member and third-ranking House Democrat, criticized those very safeguards on the floor of the House of Representatives in front of the entire nation. This video is from Nov. 30th, 2010:
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(Clyburn discusses the fraud-prevention mechanisms starting at 2:02 of video)
Clyburn contends that having the two fraud provisions in the bill may lead to “witch hunts and intimidations” (2:44).
Since we have proved widespread fraud in Pigford, and now Clyburn’s CBC colleague admits to knowing about it for years, Clyburn’s statements on the House floor now take on added significance.
Why would the third-ranking House Democrat speak out against fraud-prevention provisions in Pigford II when at the very least other members of the CBC demonstrably knew fraud was rampant in Pigford I?
Why would Clyburn say it would create a “witch hunt” even though the witches are very real, especially considering there have been no investigations or “witch hunts” into Pigford at all. To the contrary, we have spoken with FBI whistleblowers who are willing to testify before Congress that multiple Pigford fraud investigations were quashed.
Could it be that Reps. Sanford Bishop and Clyburn know that if the extraordinary amount of fraud is discovered that the American taxpayers’ “money will stop flowing” to the voters in their districts?