The Turner Report tells us that:
The corporate hog farming industry just latched on to one of the most powerful lobbyists in Missouri, as if it needed any more help. Missouri Ethics Commission records indicate Smithfield Foods, Inc., Smithfield, Va., the conglomerate which has swallowed up Murphy Farms and Premium Standard, as of Oct. 15, has former state representative Jewell Patek as its lobbyist.
Considering the in-roads the corporate farms have been making under the administration of Patek’s close friend, Governor Matt Blunt, this does not bode well for Missourians who have been trying to stop the spread and the resulting contamination from these businesses.
To describe Jewell Patek as a close friend of Matt Blunt is like describing Tom Hagen as a friend of the Godfather. It may be true, but there’s so much more to it.
Trouble is that the “so much more” is tricky to follow for those of us who just get a paycheck and pay our bills. We’re not in the habit of following the money. Take a look, for example, at how Blunt, Patek, et. al., pressured Southwest Missouri State University last year to dump their lobbyist in favor of Patek. Fired Up! explains how it worked, starting with a quote from a front page, above the fold story in the Columbia Daily Tribune in March of last year:
Patek did not return phone calls seeking comment. When his lobbying firm bid on the SEMO contract in July, the firm offered to do the job for $84,000. The firm listed the governor’s brother, Andy Blunt, “of counsel,” meaning that he was available for legal advice. It also listed Jillian Lair as an associate. Lair is engaged to James Harris, who supervises appointments to boards and commissions in the governor’s office.
It is interesting to note that the contract was approved after Harris had worked to make new appointments to the Board of Regents for SEMO on behalf of Governor Blunt.
This story is entirely consistent with ongoing rumors in the Capitol that the Governor’s office routinely pressures groups to hire Patek’s firm as a lobbyist.
So, Harris works on an appointment to a public body from inside the Governor’s Office, and then a firm that his fiancee, Jillian Lair, works at, that has financial ties to the Governor’s brother, just happens to get a contract from the public body.
This is WAY too cozy. And it’s part of a pattern. There are two other public entities that have hired Patek’s firm after Governor Blunt and Harris made appointments to their boards. Both the Kansas City Police Department and the Jackson County Sports Authority hired Patek-Lair-Blunt’s firm after Blunt appointees joined those governing boards.
Now Smithfield Farms has Patek on the payroll. That sounds like bad news for those trying to rein in the CAFOs in this state, but consider this: how could Matt Blunt do them any more favors than he’s already been doing? Short of–what?–jailing the Arrow Rock people who’ve filed a lawsuit against the Department of Natural Resources?–a move way too bald even for Matt Blunt–the governor is already doing all he can. So Smithfield isn’t angling for more drastic measures, it’s just keeping the payments for services rendered up to date.
But the folks who are fighting incursions by CAFOs know how to pressure their reps and senators so that, Jewell Patek and Matt Blunt notwithstanding, Smithfield is going to have an increasingly difficult time getting a hearing for any legislation it favors.
Still, the battle against Smithfield, Tyson, Cargill and MoArk will be uphill until Nixon is elected and appoints someone better than Doyle Childers to head the DNR and until Democrats control the legislature so that bills to rein in the CAFOs can get a hearing at all.