Three weeks ago, I published two posts about a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to continue funding for the colossal case of fraud known as the Pigford II Settlement. Today, I offer a third piece in which I cast light on the thought process — or lack thereof — behind one congressman’s decision to vote in favor of making payments of $1.25 billion to a large group of people. Each person in the group claimed to be a black farmer discriminated against by the USDA but, not surprisingly, many turned out to be con artists backed by hungry class-action lawyers.
Unlike Tea Party rock star U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), the subject of my first post who later apologized for casting a vote in favor of the funding, U.S. Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) appears unapologetic in standing behind his vote.
In response to a recent inquiry from constituent Greg Cable, the freshman Republican from Missouri’s 7th Congressional District sent a 432-word reply via email to “explain” his vote in favor of funding Pigford II payouts.
Disappointed with Long’s response and a firm believer in the saying, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” the Ozark, Mo., father of four and grandfather of just as many shared it with the folks at BigGovernment.com. Finally, Editor-in-Chief Mike Flynn shared it with me.
Noteworthy in Congressman Long’s reply was the following statement he made about voting against the amendment proposed by U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that would have prohibited Pigford II funding:
“I voted against this amendment, along with several other Republicans, because stopping payments could increase the risk for additional litigation. I firmly believe I must take every step I can to curb costly litigation, which hurts businesses and job creation in this country. I also believe I must take every step to slow out-of-control government spending at every turn.“
Later in the reply, the auctioneer-turned-politician added this thought-provoking missive:
“The United States is facing an unprecedented budget shortfall which threatens the stability of our economy and the fiscal viability of future generations who will have to repay our debt. Families, businesses and especially the federal government all need to take caution to live within our means and prioritize how to best spend their money. We must look at all programs as we search for savings in tackling this extremely important challenge.”
Apparently, Congressman Long thinks constituents like Cable should agree with him — despite his claim that “We must look at all programs as we search for savings” — that it’s worth spending $1.25 billion to prevent spending more money to litigate the case once described on the Washington Times’ editorial page as “Race hustlers are shaking down taxpayers for payoffs, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is falling for the scam.”
As I noted June 17 in my second post on this topic, 79 Republicans — including Long and West — voted in favor of funding the Pigford II payouts. Makes me wonder how many of them agree with Congressman Long and how many of them, like Congressman West, had to apologize to their constituents in order to have any chance of winning re-election in 2012.