Wednesday, July 21, 2010


This story is getting more and more ridiculous.

For the moment, I will not address the video of Shirley Sherrod speaking of not helping a white farmer as much as she could have, and whether or not she was being racist and smug in sending him to someone "of his own kind," or simply describing her attitude prior to an epiphany. I will not address whether or not Andrew Breitbart was duped into believing she is a bigot or has a jiu-jitsu media strategy that will take days to unfold.

For now, I'm just going to let everybody know that you don't have to worry about Shirley. Thanks to some digging by Washington Examiner reporter Tom Blumer, it has been discovered that Shirley Sherrod was appointed by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack for her USDA post on July 25, 2009, just days after she and her husband received from Vilsack as a cash settlement payment in a 1999 class action discrimination suit (...wait for it...) $13,000,000.00.

As explained at, circa July 2009:

The cash award acknowledges racial discrimination on the part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the years 1981-85. (President Reagan abolished the USDA Office of Civil Rights when he became President in 1981.) New Communities [the Sherrods' farming trust] is due to receive approximately $13 million ($8,247,560 for loss of land and $4,241,602 for loss of income; plus $150,000 each to Shirley and Charles [Sherrod] for pain and suffering). There may also be an unspecified amount in forgiveness of debt. This is the largest award so far in the minority farmers law suit (Pigford vs Vilsack).
From my quick, shallow research done in the wee hours of the morning, it appears to me that the Sherrods are one of the biggest beneficiaries of continual extraction of Congressional cash through the Ag Dept on behalf of black farmers who were (according to the 1999 Pigford v. Glickman consent decree) victims of discrimination during the Reagan Administration.

That settlement (known in D.C. shorthand as "Pigford Farms") is a sore subject to fiscally-minded legislators. Here's C-SPAN video of Steve King of Iowa, who sums up the Pigford Farms case on the House floor (May 13, 2008) by saying Pigford class action claimants had skyrocketed from around 3,000 estimated black farmers at the time the suit was filed to 96,000 after the announcement of the settlement, and that the money designated for the settlement will exponentially be increased, shuttling taxpayer funds to people who never actually suffered discrimination. In another C-SPAN video, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley refers to the phenomenon of Pigford Farms settlements paying off dead people.

Indeed, King's fears came to pass, as you can see here as Secretary Vilsack (former Iowa Governor) appeared alongside Jesse Jackson at a Rainbow/PUSH event ("Urban Stimulus") in which he explained that the original plans for the Pigford settlement, the discriminated farmers would receive on the average $50,000 apiece. But, he added, there were complaints from tens of thousands of alleged discriminated black farmers who somehow didn't understand the instructions about how to get paid. To accommodate them, Vilsack said, the Obamastration authorized an eventual 1.25 BILLION dollars, and left the door open for even "a bigger pot of money."

Oh, the date of that Vilsack explanation? June 28, 2009. Less than a month later, he would welcome Shirley Sherrod aboard for a government job that she apparently thought she would have as long as she wanted it. But according to the Rural Development press release, Sherrod was starting up New Communities, Inc. again, picking up where she left off when it shut down in 1985. Which is it? Either? Or both?

1 comment:

Lisa G in NZ said...

nice blog... the Sherrod lady is something else all right...