nyt this morning, page A1, above the fold
in 1999, bill clinton's doj won a supreme court victory on behalf of 91 african american farmers who claimed decades of discrimination at the dept of agriculture had damaged them in that they were not advanced farm loans other americans with equal claims were given
damages were awarded of $50K per plaintiff
in the senate, naturally, obama was a loud supporter of the suit (points out the grey lady)
indeed, he sponsored bills on behalf of "late filer relief"
"the bar for a successful claim was so low it was almost impossible to show fraud"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 — 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.
"its very design encouraged people to lie"
nursery school age children, urban addresses
identical handwriting and personal stories
"even now some people who say they were unfairly denied loans can collect up to 50K with little documentation"
robert menendez (under current fbi investigation), new jersey, was the principal pusher
of couse, vilsack at ag was the main mover
lots of inner dept resistance, the political appointees vs the careerists in ag and doj
the admin ran roughshod over the professionals who worked the depts before the admin came and will continue to do so after 2016
an also extra-legal "judgement fund" in treasury
in 2010 the doj settled vs class action native americans for 760M
only 300M was ever claimed, leaving the admin 460M to allocate thru "plaintiff's lawyers to be distributed among a handful of non profits serving native americans"
the doj had essentially awarded itself 460M for purposes of... GRAFT
vilsack's running victory laps---a new era of civil rights and color blindness
point guard at doj is tony west (you don't know him but i sure do)
holder and vilsack refused to talk to nyt, but "senior white house and justice officials" defended these 90K payouts of 50K each "on condition of anonymity"
vilsack blames "disgruntled" careerists in the depts
even some of the original plaintiffs are nonplussed---"why did they let people get away with all this stuff"
"anytime you throw money up in the air you are going to have people acting crazy"
in 16 zip codes in alabama, arkansas, north carolina and mississippi, "the number of successful claimants exceeded the total number of farms operated by people of any race"
in maple hill, NC 4 times as many awardees as farmers
in little rock, one family, 10 members, 500 thousand dollars
dozens of other cases in arkansas' capital---duplicate addresses, phone numbers
in columbus, ohio, two adjoining apt buildings, every resident---SAYS THE NY TIMES, front page, top of the fold
in pine bluff, arkansas, a police officer ADMITTED to fraud---he was not prosecuted because "singling out one individual raised questions of selective prosecution"
"the defendant could go to the jury and say, 'everybody else did this, why am i here,'" wrote us attorney paula casey
breitbart and uber con steve king from western iowa were right---concedes the lady, presumably rather reluctantly
why were so many so quiet?
congressman king---"never underestimate the fear of being called a racist"
cue secty vilsack---"a pandora's box of hidden racial agendas"
in feb, 2010, doj settled vs hispanic class action (after 8 years of stall thru the bush years)
meet thomas burrell, "charismatic" head of the black farmers and agriculturalists assn, memphisThe claims process opened in late September, six weeks before the election. In the weeks before the March 25 deadline, facing far fewer claimants than expected, the Agriculture Department instructed processors to call about 16,000 people to remind them that time was running out, despite internal disquiet that the government was almost recruiting claims against itself. The deadline was then extended to May 1.
So far, about 1,900 Hispanics and 24,000 women have sought compensation, many in states where middlemen have built a cottage industry, promising to help win payouts for a fee.
on a thursday in little rock, the greater 2nd baptist church, before a crowd of "several hundred african americans" who "listened intently:"
usda admitted they discriminated against "any black who walked in," he rails
i got 50K, my 4 sisters each got 50K, we got 50K on behalf of our dead father...
his dying words, "i was discriminated against by usda," to general laughter
no limit to the money, no limit to how many...
so let's go get that judge to start writing those checks!
they opened the vault!
The Times’s examination was based on thousands of pages of court and confidential government documents, as well as interviews with dozens of claimants, lawyers, former and current government officials and others involved in the cases over the past 14 years. Many officials spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing rules against disclosing internal government deliberations and, in a few cases, the desire not to be drawn into a racially charged controversy.