On May 16, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee tipped off Judicial Watch to compulsory training underway nationwide that entails requiring staffers to bang on tables while chanting in unison that America’s founding fathers were illegal immigrants. In response, Judicial Watch on May 18 filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all records since January 2010 of USDA’s dealings with Souder, Betances & Associates, a Chicago-based consultancy focused on cultural sensitivity training. According to usaspending.gov, USDA has paid Mr. Samuel Betances and his firm nearly $200,000 in the past two years to institute a “cultural transformation” of the agency following Secretary Tom Vilsack’s knee-jerk firing of Shirley Sherrod.
Today, Judicial Watch received 46 pages of responsive documents from one small division of USDA called the Food & Nutrition Service (FNS). The records released today show that FNS spent $2,350.97 to send Vincent Loran, the division’s Training Administrator, to Skokie, Ill., for Betances’ three-day course. Additionally, the records show:
- a January 17, 2012 email in which Loran seeks Betances’ blessing, referring to him as father, and professing his love.
- an October 10, 2011 email in which Loran promises Betances he will keep secret a video of a training session shot on USDA premises which the agency to date refuses to release.
Today’s disclosure came in response to Judicial Watch’s July 10 administrative appeal, which challenged that agency’s initial release of only six heavily-redacted pages. A response to Judicial Watch’s initial FOIA was due on June 18. A response to Judicial Watch’s appeal was due on August 10.