Three years late, NYT admits Andrew Breitbart was right

The late Andrew Breitbart attacked, attacked and attacked again the “Pigford Settlement” that Obama’s Department of Justice used to funnel literally billions of dollars to the favorite constituents. He was ignored or dismissed as some crazy racist fool by the mainstream media – mostly just ignored. Today, (with only a passing reference to Breitbart, six pages in), the NYT exposes the scandal to its readers. If you’re unfamiliar with this colossal rip off of your tax dollars, read the entire article, but keep your blood pressure medicine handy. Excerpts:

Ever since the Clinton administration agreed in 1999 to make $50,000 payments to thousands of black farmers, … Hispanics and women had been clamoring in courtrooms and in Congress for the same deal. They argued, as the African-Americans had, that biased federal loan officers had systematically thwarted their attempts to borrow money to farm.

But a succession of courts — and finally the Supreme Court — had rebuffed their pleas. Instead of an army of potential claimants, the government faced just 91 plaintiffs. Those cases, the government lawyers figured, could be dispatched at limited cost.

They were wrong.

On the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling, interviews and records show, the Obama administration’s political appointees at the Justice and Agriculture Departments engineered a stunning turnabout: they committed $1.33 billion to compensate not just the 91 plaintiffs but thousands of Hispanic and female farmers who had never claimed bias in court.

The deal, several current and former government officials said, was fashioned in White House meetings despite the vehement objections — until now undisclosed [except by Breitbart – Ed] — of career lawyers and agency officials who had argued that there was no credible evidence of widespread discrimination. What is more, some protested, the template for the deal — the $50,000 payouts to black farmers — had proved a magnet for fraud. …

The compensation effort sprang from a desire to redress what the government and a federal judge agreed was a painful legacy of bias against African-Americans by the Agriculture Department. But an examination by The New York Times shows that it became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms that stand to gain more than $130 million in fees. In the past five years, it has grown to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers. In all, more than 90,000 people have filed claims. The total cost could top $4.4 billion.

From the start, the claims process prompted allegations of widespread fraud and criticism that its very design encouraged people to lie: because relatively few records remained to verify accusations, claimants were not required to present documentary evidence that they had been unfairly treated or had even tried to farm. Agriculture Department reviewers found reams of suspicious claims, from nursery-school-age children and pockets of urban dwellers, sometimes in the same handwriting with nearly identical accounts of discrimination.

As a senator, Barack Obama supported expanding compensation for black farmers, and then as president he pressed for $1.15 billion to pay those new claims. Other groups quickly escalated their demands for similar treatment. In a letter to the White House in September 2009, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a leading Hispanic Democrat, threatened to mount a campaign “outside the Beltway” if Hispanic farmers were not compensated.

The groups found a champion in the new agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack. New settlements would provide “a way to neutralize the argument that the government favors black farmers over Hispanic, Native American or women farmers,” an internal department memorandum stated in March 2010.

The payouts pitted Mr. Vilsack and other political appointees against career lawyers and agency officials, who argued that the legal risks did not justify the costs.

But critics, including some of the original black plaintiffs, say that [passing out blank checks]  is precisely what the government did when it first agreed to compensate not only those who had proof of bias, but those who had none. “Why did they let people get away with all this stuff?” asked Abraham Carpenter Jr., who farms 1,200 acres in Grady, Ark. “Anytime you are going to throw money up in the air, you are going to have people acting crazy.”

Accusations of unfair treatment could be checked against department files if claimants had previously received loans. But four-fifths of successful claimants had never done so. For them, “there was no way to refute what they said,” said Sandy Grammer, a former program analyst from Indiana who reviewed claims for three years. “Basically, it was a rip-off of the American taxpayers.”

“Once those checks started hitting the mailboxes, people couldn’t believe it,” said Mr. Wright, the Pine Bluff justice of the peace. “Then it dawned on them. ‘If Joe Blow got a check, I can get one.’ ”

On a recent Thursday at the Greater Second Baptist Church in Little Rock, several hundred African-Americans listened intently as  [Professional Black Man] Mr. Burrell told them they could reap $50,000 each, merely by claiming bias. He left out the fact that black men are no longer eligible, and that black women are eligible only if they suffered gender, not racial, bias.

“The Department of Agriculture admitted that it discriminated against every black person who walked into their offices,” he told the crowd. “They said we discriminated against them, but we didn’t keep a record. Hello? You don’t have to prove it.”

In fact, he boasted, he and his four siblings had all collected awards, and his sister had acquired another $50,000 on behalf of their dead father.

She cinched the claim, he said to a ripple of laughter, by asserting that her father had whispered on his deathbed, “I was discriminated against by U.S.D.A.”

“The judge has said since you all look alike, whichever one says he came into the office, that’s the one to pay — hint, hint,” he said. “There is no limit to the amount of money, and there is no limit to the amount of folks who can file.”

He closed with a rousing exhortation: “Let’s get the judge to go to work writing them checks! They have just opened the bank vault.”

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Three years late, NYT admits Andrew Breitbart was right

  1. Other Guy

    Nice mess. Nothing like handing out free money in big lumps and calling it racial justice. My guess is that more than half of the editorial staff at the NY Times views this as a victory for “good” government. In their twisted lens, justice has been served and the unintended consequences (ie free money for lieing) all look good.

  2. If you haven’t seen the movie Hating Breitbart, find a way to do so. Here’s the official trailer:

    And the official movie website:
    http://www.hatingbreitbart.com/

    o/t but of interest, Keith Koffler of White House Dossier has a superb opinion piece in Politico today called Obama’s Hubris Problem. Worth a read, the comments too. I read it before I got on the train into the city this morning when there were 32 comments. Now I see, linking it here, there are 532. Either the right is saying Yes siree, or the Politico left is saying how did you let Koffler in here?
    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/obamas-hubris-problem-90650.html

  3. burningmadolf

    Reparations?

  4. Just_looking

    Please stop highlighting these. We all know this goes on, and worse, but by providing details, it makes it even more difficult to get up in the morning.

    • It’s the utter contempt for the people they rule that so angers me. I wrote a check to these people this year in an amount that would have paid off two of my children’s college loans. Okay, taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society yadadayada, but to see that money just handed over to a hispanic apartment dweller as “reparations” simply because Obama wants her vote sickens me.

      There is bound to be a boiling point reached one of these days, as the half of us who pay taxes watch the money just thrust into the pockets of those who don’t. I think that day may be closer than Washington thinks.

  5. Publius

    CF,

    The US government is in the business of making victims out of perceived slights that distracts from real issues. I will point the readers of this blog to the recent Senate confirmation hearings on the appointment of Thomas Perez Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice for the cabinet position as head of the Department of Labor.

    Mr. Perez was involved in a legal case Magner V Gallagher between the City of St Paul (Magner) and Gallagher et al landlords for multi-family housing in that city. In a nutshell Gallagher was claiming discrimination under the legal theory of disparate impact due to building code enforcement by the City (low income primarily black residents of this housing were impacted), while the City claimed that discrimination under the FHA rules had to be proven. (actual intent to discriminate).

    For those not well versed in this concept/theory, disparate impact assumes discrimination not based on actual intent, but rather statistical analysis of racial data. For example, if you are bank originating mortgages in a certain geographic area and the population of that area is 25% minority (as defined by the US) you should have +/-25% of your mortgages with minorities if you have less than that percentage, under the disparate impact theory as applied you are discriminating even though you did not actually discriminate in the business of making mortgage loans available to your client base.

    This theory has been used as a cudgel against private enterprise to extract penalties against some “bad actor” disenfranchising someone or group that doesn’t even know it’s a “victim”.

    The Magner V Gallagher case had been accepted by the US Supreme Court. As readers of FWIW know, the USSC carefully selects cases to hear based on merits and the overall importance/impact of the legal issue/theory being argued. There were fears that the disparate impact theory claimed by Gallagher would be eviscerated by the current court, thus depriving the DOJ of a tool to intimidate.

    Enter Mr. Perez who sticks his beak into this case in order to protect his turf. His statements have already been contradicted and he used personal e mail (subpoenaed, ignored most) to discuss the case, which is in direct violation of government rules that only permit official e mail addresses when conducting government business (Former EPA Lisa Jackson was a big violator as well).

    Lo and behold the City of St Paul withdraws the case!!! Strange co incident no? So the disparate impact theory lives on to wield as a mighty sword against the unsuspecting. Yes there is discrimination and we should address that issue, clearly there are enough laws on the books to do so, but to have some desk jockey sitting in a cubicle with an Excel spreadsheet claiming discrimination with no proven victim is no way shape or form of justice. Not likely that the crowd at the NYT will ever care about this…….

    A link below with the summary of the case, courtesy of Cornell Law
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/10-1032