[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]
I contacted the office of Republican Senator Chuck Grassley today about his support for John Boyd. Here’s the response I got from Grassley’s press secretary, Beth Levine.
Senator Grassley’s support for Pigford II isn’t about John Boyd, it’s about the thousands of black farmers who were unable to have their cases heard before a neutral arbiter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the courts and the Congress have all said that these farmers deserve to have their cases heard based on the merits. Pigford II simply enables the farmers, or those who attempted to farm, to plead their case in front of a neutral party and be judged on the merits. The law was also specifically written with extra protections to help ensure that fraud is kept out of the program. Those changes have been made to the settlement agreement that will enhance the Department’s ability to fight fraud including requiring adjudicators to be a truly neutral party; allowing that neutral adjudicator to ask the claimant for additional documentation if he or she suspects any fraud; requiring the claimants’ attorneys to certify that there is evidentiary support for the claims; and requiring the Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the Department’s internal controls and audit the process in adjudicating the claims. (emphasis mine.)
This is all standard runaround that Pigford II somehow has higher standards – and it’s not true. A person who is willing commit perjury – as they are being trained to do in meetings across the country – can still file a claim and easily collect a $50,000 check because the system is so simple to game.
I’m willing to fly out to Washington and go over all of this with Senator Grassley and I’ll bring whistleblowers like Jimmy Dismuke and Eddie Slaughter with me. This stuff is not difficult to prove…if Senator Grassley will only listen.
But that’s not the point.
I wasn’t asking about Senator Grassley’s support for Pigford II. I was asking about his support for Boyd. And despite her claim that “Senator Grassley’s support for Pigford II isn’t about John Boyd” – look at what Grassley said about John Boyd from Grassley’s own website…
I also want to thank John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), for his help in getting us where we are today. Without his dedication to this issue, I don’t think we’d be passing this legislation today. My hope is that the Department will work with groups like NBFA to conduct outreach to the black community and claimants. No one wants to see fraud in the administration of these claims and stakeholder groups such as John’s can be a valuable resource to getting that message out.
I pointed this out to Ms. Levine – here was her response.
John Boyd and several other people were very good advocates for the black farmers.
Official response from Grassley’s office – John Boyd is a very good advocate for black farmers. Read my recent posts and decide if that’s true.
– Lee Stranahn