Blue Dog Congressman Sanford Bishop Knew About Pigford Fraud

Lee Stranahan, Huffington Post, January 24, 2011

While I was conducting a video interview with a Georgia farmer named Eddie Slaughter a couple of weeks ago, he made a surprising and stunning allegation: that he had told his congressman about fraud in the multibillion dollar Pigford v. Glickman settlement and that the congressman responded by telling him that an investigation into Pigford would “shut it down.” Mr. Slaughter’s congressman–a man you may not have heard much about despite his nearly two decades as a Blue Dog Democrat and Congressional Black Caucus member–is Sanford Bishop.

I followed up with Mr. Slaughter and I asked him if others were in the meeting with Congressman Bishop. I’ve since interviewed two of those farmers–one on the phone and one, farmer Willie Head, on video. Both confirmed Mr. Slaughter’s story.

Here’s a a segment of my interview with Mr. Slaughter where he says:

We went to him [Sanford Bishop] several times about this fraud. [We asked] ‘why don’t you have them tell you how many of these people that are getting this money have an actual farm ID number and are actual farmers?’ [Bishop responded] ‘no, no, no–man, they’ll shut this thing down.’

And here is Willie Head:

I posted these videos to my YouTube account and then wrote pieces for Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com site. The controversial Mr. Breitbart is funding the documentary I’m working on but has given me complete journalistic freedom and has had no direct involvement in shooting any of the more than 12 hours of video interviews I’ve done so far. As a liberal, I disagree with Breitbart on most issues, but I also found him to be a very different person than he’s been portrayed as in the media, and working with him has been a great experience, just like my previous work for MoveOn.org and Brave New Films. I also don’t believe he’s a racist. If he were, I wouldn’t be working with him.

{snip}

{snip} More damning for Congressman Bishop, of course, is that he confirmed to two of the newspapers that he was indeed aware of fraud in the Pigford case. This is from the Albany Herald piece:

“Yes, I am aware that there is fraud in the program, that’s why anti-fraud provisions were written into the settlement,” Bishop said Thursday morning. “My job was to help secure funding for constituents who had been discriminated against by the USDA. It’s not my job to monitor fraud in the program. I can’t assume responsibility for fraud. You can’t lay that at my feet.

{snip}

bishop

Congressman Sanford Bishop.

[Additional stories on Pigford are listed here.]

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