The New York Times – the apogee of American journalism, yessirreebob – has reported that a government program started under the Clinton Administration to settle discrimination claims by black farmers in dealings with the Agriculture Department was rife with fraud.
It started out as a small, measured payout. The Justice Department thought it might wind up costing less than they’d feared.
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 — 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.
“I think a lot of people were disappointed,” said J. Michael Kelly, who retired last year as the Agriculture Department’s associate general counsel. “You can’t spend a lot of years trying to defend those cases honestly, then have the tables turned on you and not question the wisdom of settling them in a broad sweep.”
You haven’t seen me say this often on this blog, but read the whole NYTimes piece.
And then ask yourself – where have you seen it before?
Oh, yeah – Andrew Breitbart covered it.
Two years ago.