Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-MN) used her tour of flood damage in Iowa Monday as an opportunity to assert that it was a waste to pay African American farmers who sued the government over discrimination.
Bachmann and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told reporters that funds intended for a 1999 settlement of the Pigford case should be diverted to flood victims along the Missouri River, according the The Associated Press.
The U.S. government agreed to pay African American farmers $50,000 each if they had been unfairly denied loans by the United States Department of Agriculture. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing $1.2 billion for black farmers who were denied payouts in an earlier settlement.
King charged that most of the latest settlement “was just paid out in fraudulent claims.”
“That’s another at least $1.3 billion,” he said. “I’d like to apply that money to the people that are under water right now.”
“When money is diverted to inefficient projects, like the Pigford project, where there seems to be proof-positive of fraud, we can’t afford $2 billion in potentially fraudulent claims when that money can be used to benefit the people along the Mississippi River and the Missouri River,” she explained.
“I think taking resources from a group of people who have been historically denied any relief at the Department of Agriculture is a bad idea,” National Black Farmers Association president John Boyd told AP. “For the flood victims that deserve redress … they should provide those people with relief, too.”
“I think it’s bad for the American people. I think if Ms. Bachmann wants to be president of the United States, she should treat all people fairly,” he added.