Your morning jolt: The video that has Sanford Bishop steamed

From Washington, my AJC colleague Bob Keefe has this:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop called Internet insinuations that he was somehow involved in fraud surrounding last year’s settlement between the government and African-American farmers “one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.”

Videos featuring two Georgia farmers that are being circulated on the Web by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart hint that Bishop, of Albany, may have known about possible fraud in last year’s so-called “Pigford” settlement between the government and black farmers who claimed that a Department of Agriculture farm loan program discriminated against them.

Read the rest here. Below is one of the videos at issue. It’s pretty thin gruel:

Keefe also offers up this reminder:

Shortly after her firing, Sherrod – a resident of southwest Georgia – immediately began stumping for Bishop’s re-election.

***
On Tuesday, we told you about a movement, endorsed by possible GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich, to allow financially troubled states to declare bankruptcy. The New York Times has more today:

For now, the fear of destabilizing the municipal bond market with the words “state bankruptcy” has proponents in Congress going about their work on tiptoe. No draft bill is in circulation yet, and no member of Congress has come forward as a sponsor, although Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, asked the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, about the possiblity in a hearing this month….

It would be difficult to get a bill through Congress, not only because of the constitutional questions and the complexities of bankruptcy law, but also because of fears that even talk of such a law could make the states’ problems worse.

Lawmakers might decide to stop short of a full-blown bankruptcy proposal and establish instead some sort of oversight panel for distressed states, akin to the Municipal Assistance Corporation, which helped New York City during its fiscal crisis of 1975.

Still, discussions about something as far-reaching as bankruptcy could give governors and others more leverage in bargaining with unionized public workers.

***
Walter Jones of Morris News Service was a busy fellow on Thursday. First, he had this item about a visit by Tim Echols, the newest member of the Public Service Commission, to the used car market:

After his election in November, Echols snagged a used Honda Civic for $3,000 that runs on compressed natural gas. He drives it on his commute from Athens to his Atlanta office, but can only fill up in Atlanta because there are no natural gas fueling stations in Athens….

Echols showed off the four-door to reporters and lobbyists and has offered rides to his colleagues. He says it performs like any other Honda, gets 36 miles per gallon, goes 190 miles on a tank and only costs $1.29 per gallon to fill. Plus, the law lets alternative-fuel vehicles travel in the carpool lane even with only one person aboard….

Echols wants to see more people driving natural gas vehicles, like the fleets of UPS and Atlanta city buses. Natural gas engines are 29 percent cleaner than gasoline engines, let alone diesel engines.

The hitch, he recognizes, is that few consumers will take the plunge until there are more places to buy fuel. That’s why he supports a proposal to allocate a portion of the state’s Universal Service Fund for gas pipeline expansion to Atlanta Gas Light Co. to build a network of fueling stations.

***
And then there’s this for school system lobbyists to ponder, also from Morris News Service:

Conversations are quietly under way around the Capitol about creating a new panel to look at school funding.
House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman said Thursday that the goal will probably be to draft some ultimate recommendations next year.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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22 comments Add your comment

Buzz G

January 21st, 2011
8:49 am

This is taxpayer money. What goes on in Washington is shameful. It is time we get someone to investigate Attorney General Holder and his slimey cronies. But what is really shameful here is the spin going on in the press. The press is doing all it can to spin the facts to convince people that the problem is not the leftists in the Obama administration, but those who would expose the corruption.

PatP

January 21st, 2011
9:18 am

This so called recollection of a four year old story and a more than 14 year old meeting is supposedly to discredit Congressman Bishop. The story has no legs. Another foolish attempt by Breibart to go after Ms. Sherrod. Breibart needs to find himself a rock and crawl under it. This is not journalism–it’s insignificant and a made up circus act. Truth be told, ask farmers Black and white have they received assistance from Bishop and they will tell you YES!

ProgressivePeach

January 21st, 2011
9:21 am

Buzz, we put GOP in charge of everything in Georgia, give them the US House pursestrings, and it’s STILL the Dems fault? Dude, step away from the FauxNews clicker…

Truth

January 21st, 2011
9:58 am

Don’t forget that Sherrod and her husband made millions off of this settlement. I wonder how many other Bishop friends or relatives made money off of this settlement but were never farmers? PatP – This meeting didn’t take place 14 years ago. It was much more recent than that. If Bishop has been so helpful to the farmers, why did they not vote for him this year? The only reason Bishop is still in office is because of an extremely high early and absentee voting turnout in Columbus. The farmers and rural people of his district did not vote for him. This is just another example of corruption in and around Bishop himself. It would be very interesting to see who benefited from this settlement and their ties to Bishop. The website that is reporting on this story is stating that there is much more damning evidence to come and they have saved the best for last. It should be interesting to see what comes out.

Aquagirl

January 21st, 2011
10:10 am

Watch the same folk who poo-pooh criticism of Deal’s business turn out shrieking about the “news” on Bishop. What dimwit believes Breitbart? What a bunch of maroons.

Last Man Standing

January 21st, 2011
10:15 am

PatP:

“This so called recollection of a four year old story and a more than 14 year old meeting is supposedly to discredit Congressman Bishop.”

There need be no effort to discredit Bishop. He does that himself very well and needs no help.

Last Man Standing

January 21st, 2011
10:20 am

ProgressivePeach:

“give them the US House pursestrings”

Excuse me? I don’t believe anyone gave the U.S. House of Representatives to the Republicans. The voters kicked the democRATS out!

Don't Blame Me

January 21st, 2011
10:43 am

Who did Commissioner Echols buy the car from?

TLamar

January 21st, 2011
12:54 pm

I wonder why it’s a problem with Black Farmers receiving monies that were due to them. It was okay when Bush gave White farmers monies when their farms went belly-up. But now it’s unfair. Also, Bush had promised this money to them; because, the knew the Black Farmers had been discriminated against. It took Obama to sign it into law, something that should have been done year ago. It’s really a shame that we are living in the 21st century and some Whites would like to see us back in segregation and slavery. Get over it!

RetiredSoldier

January 21st, 2011
1:07 pm

AQ-

I guess the federal government did vis-a-vis ACORN since they defunded them and now they now longer exist.

Question Man

January 21st, 2011
4:13 pm

Doesn’t Newt Gingrich have about as much chance of becoming President as John Oxendine had to become governor of Georgia? For the record, wouldn’t that be: “Little chance?”

Lee Stranahan

January 21st, 2011
4:39 pm

I’m the writer and filmmaker who shot the video above and I wanted to clarify what I think is somewhat misleading reportage from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

I’m a liberal Democrat who writes for the Huffington Post. I am working with Andrew Breitbart on this story but he’s had no day-to-day involvement in the making of videos aside from funding. I’ve been on the road for the past six weeks in eight states in the South interviewing people – everyone from former USDA Sec. Mike Espy to black farmers and lawyers with a connection to the Pigford settlement. The AJC article fails to mention me and it also fails to mention that representative Bishop made an entirely different statement earlier in the day to the Albany Herald where he not only admitted knowing about the fraud but claimed that he had no responsibility to do anything about it.

I have spoken to three farmers who all say they were at a meeting with Sanford Bishop where he was told about fraud and that his response was to tell them to stop complaining and that representative Bishop expressed concern that an investigation would “shut down” Pigford. the farmers involved feel that the fraud in the Pigford settlement has hurt them and that representative Bishop has been helping to mask the fraud.

The gruel is far from thin and it’s about to heat up — although truth be told, I prefer shrimp n’ grits to gruel.

Andrew Breitbart

January 21st, 2011
4:54 pm

What is ‘thin gruel’? A congressman is accused by two Pigford black farmers of trying to cover up widespread Pigford fraud. Rep. Sanford Bishop tells the Albany Herald that the fraud does, indeed, exist. And he goes on to offer a whopper: That he has a congressman has no mechanism to provide oversight on said fraud. Really? And in your paper, he contradicts his admission of the meeting taking place, and insinuates that farmers Willie Head and Eddie Slaughter are somehow ‘inebriated’. I don’t know your byline but my guess is that you are trying to cover up for a congressman’s massive boner – so to speak. More ‘thin gruel’ to come…

Truth

January 22nd, 2011
8:39 am

Andrew and Lee – Could you possibly do some investigating and research in Columbus on the abnormally high early voting and absentee voting numbers this past November in favor of Bishop? I have heard rumors of people handling 500 absentee votes at a time and rumors of the campaign filling up buses and paying each passenger $10 to go to the polls. I think if you interviewed some people in Columbus you might find some interesting findings. Bishop pretty much gets away with what ever he wants and everyone is scared to say anything to him. Last year he earmarked $200,000 to a youth program in Columbus run by a family friend. That friend then hired Bishop’s daughter and son-in-law. Their paychecks were direct deposited in Bishop’s wife’s checking account. The problem was that they lived and worked full-time over 100 miles away. The GBI investigated but it was out of their jurisdiction because it was federal money. The FBI and DOJ never investigated. Bishop’s staff have been found to harass and threaten to withhold services to constituents that don’t support Bishop’s votes. Bishop’s congressional staff has been used for campaign purposes. Bishop sent thousands in scholarship money meant for needy kids to family and family of staff. His answer for everything is “I didn’t know” and “It isn’t my fault”. This guy is probably the most corrupt member in congress. His earmarks go to friends and family of staff in Columbus. Who knows what the money is really spent on. Someone needs to expose all this corruption because the AJC and Columbus newspaper won’t do it. The Columbus newspaper in particular was muzzled on the earmark controversy and investigation last year. Please, please, please investigate all this info. Google it. Look at campaign disclosures and personal financial disclosures. Bishop spent almost $500,000 on legal fees within the last year immediately following the GBI investigation on the earmark. That controversy went away immediately without any press covering it. Please look into this.

wild one 13

January 22nd, 2011
7:02 pm

Andrew, we have already seen just how trustworthy you are. I am as conservative as they come but, you have lost all credability with that sham you reported on Ms. Sherrod.

JMP

January 23rd, 2011
12:55 am

I’m sorry, any video by, for, with or from that moron & Criminals Keefe and or Breitbart is suspect. Now & forever. And excuse me, there’s more demonstrable ‘waste, fraud & abuse’ in any of our regular farm bills than in the desperately needed, long delayed and thoroughly justified Pigford settlement. Once again we’ve got the well funded right wing and their yes, miserably ill informed lackey’s (hey Lee S.), desperately trying to suggest to the uninformed that Any payments to Black farmers, or Black’s in particular are automatically suspect somehow.

So what are the issues being claimed here? Absentee Farmers getting payments from the big gumminit? Oh the horrors! Happens daily with & for Big Business & huge landholders in each & every state, but you’d not know that being pig ignorant of regular issues affecting farm subsidies. There’s more ‘farmers’ getting payments in NYC than in many agricultural counties due to this long time practice. And lawyers raking it in when settlements are finally agreed to? What part of capitalism as we know it do you want to suspend or ‘investigate’? SSDD. Bishop was right, this is a non story using a few unrepresentative disgruntled malcontents being used for pure propaganda purposes. Just like the miserably & blatantly racist and slanderous Sherrod episode from Breitbart.

If these clowns were any less informed about reality then they might get us into a needless foreign war to bleed us dry for the next decade or more. Oh wait… How stupid do you think we are? Have someone familiar with the real Ag issues involved look into these issues. If they’re still honestly employed @ the AJC or in Ga.

Down in Albany

January 23rd, 2011
8:58 am

For just a minute, forget the video, forget that Breitbart had anything to do with it and listen to the words of Bishop himself. He admits that he knows about fraud and claims to have no responsibility for it. Forget for a minute that everyone understands that fraud and abuse happens every day in every federal program in the country. Now listen to yourselves. SSDD? That makes it ok? This should NOT be considered standard operating procedure. When do we, as AMERICANS, stand up and say “enough is enough…we are tired of the wasteful spending, the fraud of OUR government against us the tax-paying citizens?” Forget for a minute, black, white or red. Wrong is wrong. It’s time for us to have a voice in what happens with OUR money. This is not, “…capitalism as we know it..” If fraudulent payments were made, they need to be investigated. End of story.

JMP

January 23rd, 2011
6:38 pm

Wrong is wrong?! Ok then, Start with the damn Farm Bill! It’s up for reauthorization soon. There’s more outright fraud & abuse on Each Page of that Document than in this settlement, meant to correct discrimination that Did happen over decades! Where’s the proportionality? The justice? The fairness? Oh, they’re Black! Never mind! They’re automatically Less Deserving, and Always more Suspect. Accountable for each & every red cent. Whereas down the road, Mr. Big Agribiz is allowed to go on uninspected for his crop subsidies & ‘allocations’, well for decades. (And be able to poison you at will too!)

And to have that miserable lying sack of dung, Mr. ‘I’ll decide how to cut up a quote to make you sound guilty’ Breitbart supposedly standing in for ‘fair play’ here? Irony is dead certainly. But it a’int dead Stupid. No sir!

Lee Stranahan

January 24th, 2011
4:03 am

You’re (deliberately, it seems) missing the other main point — these black farmers THEMSELVES think the fraud is bad and has hurt them.

Three papers talked to the farmers I interviewed . They all say I quoted them fairly and accurately.

JMP

January 24th, 2011
7:43 pm

“You’re (deliberately, it seems) missing” the Central point Lee, which is not uncommon for you. What’s the real Size of the fraud in question? How likely is it to be excised from the settlement without otherwise ‘blowing it up’ or delaying it again for oh, yet another decade or so? These are mostly very elderly farmers. This is, yes, their likely last chance at any sort of Just compensation for decades of discrimination. Otherwise? It’s all Gone. Done. And the issue disappears, along with the attention, and justice is not only delayed again, but denied forever. And how do we balance such minimal Claims & mere Accusations against the very real claims of justice by the Other Vast majority of claimants who might be justly compensated after decades of waiting?

Or more properly, why is it always the right wing and their lackeys who are forever willing to question the even limited claims for justice by & for Blacks, even when it’s seemingly serving the true aims of justice for the overwhelming Vast majority of the population. It’s like holding up an entire Interstate to accommodate the traffic of horse & buggy’s. Again, where’s the Justice? Where’s the proportionality? There’s fraud in each & every human endeavor. We need not stop the world to examine each and every Claimed instance of it. Simply to suit your political calculations, machinations & desires to deny justice to & for others you may or may not imagine as unworthy of the cost or exercise.

So yeah Lee. I know the issues involved. And I’ve been reading you & witnessing Breitbarts abominations for awhile. You’re still wrong. And more fraudulent than anything going on here in the Pigford settlement!

Dude-Bro

January 24th, 2011
10:00 pm

[...] related to the Pigford v. Glickman settlement. Sure, Old AJC Guy likes to minimize it as “pretty thin gruel” (because that’s what a biased AJC reporter does, you see). But now Breitbart has put [...]