Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Smithfield's political contributions bring home the bacon

Posted By on Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge Rep. Brad Lager has one of these at home
  • Rep. Brad Lager has one of these at home

The head honchos at Smithfield Foods, meat manufacturers and owners of Premium Standard Farms (PSF), weren't too happy about the $11 million judgment against them that a jury handed down in Jackson County Circuit Court last month (as described in this week's feature).

Some of the lawmakers in northern Missouri, where Smithfield and PSF own 11 confined animal feeding operations, were disappointed, too.

Missouri state Rep. Brad Lager, a Maryville Republican, is one of the lawmakers who has asked Gov. Jay Nixon to give PSF a break. Lager says he is worried about the jobs that PSF provides in his district. It would be too cynical to suggest that his underlying motive has anything to do with PSF's ham-handed political contributions, right?

click to enlarge Rep. Brad Lager says, "Mmm, bacon."
  • Rep. Brad Lager says, "Mmm, bacon."

In the 2008 campaign cycle, Smithfield's political action committee, HamPac, gave $11,500 to candidates seeking federal office in Missouri, including Congressmen Roy Blunt and Sam Graves.

Oh hey! Lager's on this list, too! 

According to HamPac's state-by-state breakdown, "Smithfield took particular interest in Missouri elections as the company has recently grown its presence in the state." HamPac spent $36,350 on Missouri's Republican candidates and $16,950 on the Democrats. Eighty-seven percent of the candidates Smithfield supported were elected, including House members:

  • Mike Dethrow
  • Curt Dougherty
  • Tony Dugger
  • Barney Fisher
  • Jim Guest
  • Steve Hodges
  • Will Kraus
  • Mike Lair
  • Tom Loehner
  • Jerry Nolte
  • Charles Schlottach
  • Terry Swinger
  • Mike Thomson
  • Clint Tracy
  • Billy Pat Wright
  • Anne Zerr

In the state Senate, the porky fingers belong to:
  • Victor Callahan
  • Jane Cunningham
  • Tom Dempsey
  • Kevin Engler
  • Jack Goodman
  • Rob Mayer
  • David Pearce
  • Chuck Purgason
  • Ron Richard
  • Luann Ridgeway
  • Eric Schmitt
  • Charlie Shields
  • Bill Stouffer

"Despite the lack of any sound scientific evidence to

support their claims, the governor's staff at Department of Natural

Resources has pushed Premium Standard Farms to the brink," Rep. Lager said in a press release that the Trenton Republican-Times ran on February 19. "If they

continue to be unreasonable, these jobs will be gone. Premium Standard

Farms has already spent more than $40 million to meet DNR's whims; when

is enough enough?"

Lager is wrong about the money spent on the DNR's "whims." PSF agreed to

spend more than $40 million odor-reducing technology on its barns as

part of a settlement the company made after then-Attorney

General

Jay Nixon sued PSF for repeated violations of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. That was 10 years ago, and now PSF's time is almost up.

If PSF blows its July 31 deadline, it will be up to Attorney General Chris Koster to decide how to proceed. In his successful campaign for the AG's office, Koster took $12,500 in HamPac porkola.

Image via: bkusler on flickr

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