Federal broadband development swamp heads south

by Steve Blum • , , ,

The south rises again.

If you were hoping that Donald Trump’s campaign promise to drain the Beltway swamp was going to shake up the agriculture subsidy machine that funnels broadband development money to the south and midwest at California’s expense, then it looks like you’re going to be disappointed.

The U.S. senate confirmed former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as agriculture secretary this week. He has spent his life in the southern farming industry, as a boy growing up on a farm, as a veterinarian, as governor and as a commodities trader. Even his fan boys, like those at National Hog Farmer, concede that he is “known for not pushing big agendas”.

What he is known for is dodgy dealings that benefit himself and his fellow good old boys (and, in fairness, girls) at taxpayer’s expense, according to Politico.com

Perdue, tapped by Trump to run USDA in January, has a long history of ethics controversies, notably when he signed a law giving himself a tax break, and when he was found to have violated Georgia law by funding his campaign accounts with contributions from his private enterprises…

“That good-old boy system is definitely embedded and definitely entrenched here,” said Sara Henderson, the public policy director for Common Cause Georgia, a nonpartisan government watchdog group. “And I think former Gov. Perdue is going to bring that to the federal government…"

Perdue faced 13 complaints to the state ethics commission during his years as governor, two of which resulted in findings that he broke state ethics laws. In 2002, Perdue was caught funneling illegal amounts of money from his private businesses into his campaign account and, in 2005, Perdue was forced to pay a $1,900 fine for improper campaign contributions and failing to correctly report the use of his private plane for a campaign event, records show.

The federal agriculture department’s broadband infrastructure subsidy program is rigged to favor the kind of rural communities that predominate in the midwest and south, and reliably passes over Californian projects. Former California congressman Sam Farr called it “midwest derangement syndrome”. The only difference this time is that it’s heading south.