Seventy-nine Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives cast votes Thursday against an amendment to H.R 2112, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012 that would have blocked the government from paying out $1.25 billion to a suspect class of people, many of whom have been outed as con artists backed by hungry class-action lawyers. Today, I’m wondering (albeit with my tongue firmly in cheek), “Where is the mainstream media coverage of this story?”
Four months ago, the Washington Times used its editorial page to lambaste Pigford as “Race hustlers are shaking down taxpayers for payoffs, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is falling for the scam.” On yesterday’s vote, however, the newspaper was silent. And they’re not alone.
While Lee Stranahan’s article at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com and my piece that followed cast some light on the matter, none of the alphabet networks or dinosaur newspapers appear to have reported on the vote. In fact, a Google News Search this morning of the word “Pigford” — the shortened version of the name of the class-action lawsuit, Pigford v. Glickman, against the USDA — turned up only eight results.
I suspect news anchors and editorial writers are avoiding the subject, since it could come back to bite the rear ends of the candidates for whom they will be “carrying water” in the 2012 elections. For that reason alone, members of the new media and the Tea Party Movement alike should make it a hot-button campaign issue.
The seriousness of Pigford is, perhaps, best explained by the statement issued by U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) about the amendment he filed that would have prevented any funds appropriated under the act from being used to settle claims associated with the controversial and fraud-plagued Pigford II program:
“In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress limited taxpayers’ exposure to the Pigford II settlement program at $100 million, a figure that was deemed sufficient to resolve the racial discrimination claims leveled against the United States Department of Agriculture by black farmers,” said King. “Since that time, a lame-duck Democratic Congress agreed to President Obama’s request to pump an additional $1.15 billion into the Pigford II settlement program, doing so even though the program is rife with credible allegations of massive fraud that have not been fully investigated. This was an irresponsible act, and it violated Congress’s responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money.”
“The new majority in the House of Representatives should not ratify the lame-duck Congress’s decision to increase American taxpayers’ exposure to Pigford II fraud. I believe that an investigation into the program will reveal that the majority of the claims that have been filed are fraudulent, and Congress should not turn a blind eye to the real possibility that the money is being used primarily to build political goodwill for the President instead of being used to properly redress the much smaller universe of people who have actually suffered harm. If passed, my amendment would put the brakes on Pigford II funding, and it would prevent the Secretary of Agriculture from paying fraudulent claims one $50,000 check at a time.”
*Pigford II is the second such “settlement program,” established when some folks in Washington decided some “black farmers” had been overlooked during the first round which began in 1999 under the so-called “first black president,” Bill Clinton.
Questions must be asked of candidates — especially Republicans and so-called conservatives — who voted to advance the fraud that has already been thoroughly exposed via the painstaking investigative efforts of the folks at BigGovernment.com, BigPeace.com and, of course, BigJournalism.com.