Republican Congressman Steve King says there’s something not quite right about the case of Shirley Sherrod, the U.S.D.A. employee who was fired after a blogger posted part of a speech she gave about race relations. King questions why she’s suing the blogger who posted the out-of-context video snippet that got her fired, instead of U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack — the man who fired her.
King suggests Sherrod has entered into an agreement with officials at the U.S.D.A. or the White House to, in his words, “keep quiet” about the controversy over her firing, and just who did the firing. “I don’t believe that Tom Vilsack ‘jumped the gun,’ as the president said he did. I think the president ordered that he fire her and I think the president ordered that he hire her back because Tom Vilsack is too smart and he does too much due diligence to think that he would ‘jump the gun,'” King says.
“So now I’m suggesting they need to do more homework on Shirley Sherrod.” King also questions why Sherrod was hired at the U.S.D.A. within days of receiving part of a legal settlement over past U.S.D.A. discrimination against black farmers.”Her history doesn’t necessarily say I’m looking at evidence that she’s guilty of fraud, nor do I want to imply that,” King says, “but she and her husband are the largest recipients of the settlement and three days before she was hired to work for the U.S.D.A. by Tom Vilsack she and her husband were awarded $150,000 each for pain and suffering.”
Sherrod told U.S.D.A. officials, before they hired her, that she had been one of the black farmers who was awarded money in the discrimination lawsuit. Vilsack, at the time he announced Sherrod would lead rural development efforts in Georgia, said her experience could help “turn the corner” on decades of discrimination against black farmers.
Vilsack and Sherrod met face-to-face in Washington this week. She turned down an offer of another job within the U.S.D.A.