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Obama Carries on the Pigford Fraud
Posted By Louis T. March On January 10, 2011 @ 12:03 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 44 Comments
A former Secretary of Agriculture has now expressed concern about the obvious fraud involved in the multi-billion-dollar settlement of the black “farmer” and other lawsuits against the government — but why has everyone failed to note that all of these settlements are actually illegal under federal law?
When Congress was stampeded to pass unprecedented legislation in 1998 to facilitate the Pigford v. Glickman suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), some wise but unknown person included a limiting provision in that bill to minimize participation by phony claimants.
But, when the Clinton Administration agreed to a settlement of the case in 1999, that provision was carefully evaded in the consent decree, opening the door to massive fraud. Judge Paul Friedman, a Clinton appointee, quickly approved the deal, resulting in payment of more than $1 billion to nearly 16,000 black claimants, virtually none of whom met that statutory requirement.
Now the Obama regime is on the brink of settling a second Pigford suit for another $1.25 billion, and the proposed settlement again subverts and ignores the law to encourage and reward massive fraud — this time by as many as 80,000 prospective claimants. Obama recently signed legislation appropriating $1.15 billion more for black farmer claims, and his administration claims there are safeguards against fraud in the settlement.
In fact, not only has the Obama Justice Department facilitated fraud, but it has continued the practice of ignoring and subverting the statutory provision designed to stop fraud.
It’s a dirty little, seldom mentioned secret that Pigford was certified by Judge Friedman as a class action not for discrimination in making loans, but based on the allegation that plaintiffs’ civil rights complaints against USDA were mishandled by the department’s civil rights apparatus.
This being the case, the law passed to allow the suits limited participation to individuals who had “a nonemployment related complaint that was filed with the Department of Agriculture before July 1, 1997, and alleges discrimination at any time during the period beginning on January 1, 1981 and ending December 31, 1996 . . . .”
Now, a reasonable person would conclude that this created a very finite, verifiable pool of applicants, since any bureaucracy keeps careful track of the cases it handles, if only to justify current and additional staffing and resources. Any plaintiffs could be checked against the USDA record of discrimination complaints for that period, and those who had filed no complaints could be excluded from participation.
Not in Bill Clinton’s America! In the original 1999 settlement, USDA pleaded its own incompetence to help claimants avoid meeting this requirement, saying its records were in such a state of chaos that they could not be relied upon to filter out fraud.
Therefore, the original settlement openly invited fraud by allowing claimants to substitute “a communication from a class member directly to USDA, or to a member of Congress, the White House, or a state, local or federal official who forwarded the class member’s communication to USDA, asserting that USDA had discriminated against the class member on the basis of race in connection with a federal farm credit transaction or benefit application.” But there was never any requirement to prove that USDA was actually contacted by any third party and put on notice of the existence of a complaint.
And it gets worse: claimants who didn’t have such a letter were allowed to “submit an affidavit from a non-family member stating that he or she has personal knowledge that a discrimination complaint was filed and describing the way in which it was filed.” For 99 percent of the claims, the settlement eliminated the government’s right to challenge even the most obviously untrue affidavits. In the one percent of claims where they could be challenged, a significant number failed because, under penalty of perjury, the non-family member quickly admitted that there was no first-hand knowledge.
It can easily be proven than USDA Secretary Dan Glickman was wrong when he asserted that discrimination was “rampant” in his department — that his outburst was a blatant effort to aid the plaintiffs at a crucial moment in the legal process. So, how true was his claim about the civil rights records?
In 2005, the USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights advised a congressman: “Regrettably, the Office of Civil Rights underwent several organizational changes during 1981-1997, and the responsibility for handling program discrimination complaints was not centralized during that time. Thus, there is no central repository for data regarding program discrimination complaints that were filed between 1981-1997.”
This is not a claim that records do not exist, just that there is no central source. But is even USDA really so incompetent that it has been unable to gather together those documents in the 13 years since the Pigford lawsuit was filed? It’s far more likely that they never existed — because very few complaints were really filed.
In that letter, the Assistant Secretary went on to admit that the department had records of only 1,376 program-related civil rights complaints filed during entire 17-year period. And less than 1,000 of those involved the Farm Programs and Farm Loan Programs that are the statutorily limited subjects of Pigford and the other lawsuits.
Adding the 23,000 claims in the original case to the 80,000 plaintiffs projected to be eligible to participate in Pigford II, and subtracting all of the 1,376 records that admittedly exist, we are being told — presumably with a straight face — that USDA somehow lost all trace of well over 100,000 civil rights complaints, that not even a single name in a database remains of any of those cases. USDA still has records of every person who farmed in America in 1910 — but claims not to know, even within 100,000, the actual number who contacted the department directly to complaint of discrimination between 1981 and 1997.
And, incredibly, this figure accounts for only the blacks who are claiming to meet the statutory requirements in Pigford. Hundreds of thousands of additional plaintiffs in carbon-copy cases for American Indians, Hispanics and women are now or will soon be claiming that they also filed mysteriously missing complaints as those suits progress toward their own inexorable, Obama-imposed payoffs.
Based on the experience of Pigford, it is not at all out of the question that half a million total plaintiffs could be making that claim before all of these shameful settlements are concluded. But the proposed settlements do not require any plaintiff to supply a copy of his complaint, or a single piece of paper from USDA acknowledging that a complaint was actually filed!
No matter how incompetent USDA may have been, this scenario simply beggars belief.
From a strictly numerical standpoint, it would have been impossible for the civil rights staff even to log in and read hundreds of thousands of complaints between 1981 and 1996. Such a crush would have generated whole forests of paper begging for additional manpower and resources — and such memos do not exist. Even just the complaints claimed in Pigford I and II would have swamped the available resources.
Each complaint in the possession of USDA has a log number. If the wall of “privacy” that the government hides its records behind could somehow be breached — for instance, by a congressional investigation — it would quickly become clear that there are no massive gaps in the numbering, that the “lost” hundreds of thousands of complaint never existed, that the department actually received fewer than 1,400 complaints during that period, and that fewer than 1,400 individuals are actually entitled under Federal law to sue in all of the cases combined.
So, what is to be done about this massive fraud? Not just the $2.25 billion for blacks, but $680 million for American Indians under the recent tentative settlement of the Keepseagle case, and billions more for women and Hispanics — who, incidentally, have already lost their bids for class action status in federal court, but will be paid nevertheless under the orders of Barack Obama.
The media will ignore the truth about Pigford and the other lawsuits. If somehow forced to cover these inconvenient facts, the very idea of fraud will be universally condemned by the press as “racism,” and therefore ignored as unworthy of consideration.
Judge Friedman has proven his inability or unwillingness to follow the law by approving the corrupt settlement in the original Pigford case, and there is no reason to believe he will repudiate his own actions by lifting a finger to stop the even more massive, organized fraud of Pigford II. Neither is their much chance that Judge Emmett Sullivan will rejected the Keepseagle settlement.
Eric Holder’s “Justice” Department negotiated the illegal settlements, and clearly has no intention of obeying the law.
Most of our politicians are too cowardly to face the wrath of the organized minorities whose members are raping America’s taxpayers in these phony cases, with the open assistance of the Obama regime. But it is only a public congressional hearing that can possibly expose and stop the fraud in all of these race-based cases.
Is that really too much to ask?
Louis T. March served as an aide to U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. His Harvest of Lies: The Black Farmer Lawsuit Against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is available at www.repgov.org.
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