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Campaign Pork

Rosalind Helderman

There were lots of interesting moments at last night's blogger-hosted debate near Virginia Tech. Perhaps the question that seemed to surprise the candidates most came from Fire Dog Lake's Jane Hamsher, who asked the men whether they had ever taken money from Virginia's Smithfield Foods.

She noted that residents of a Mexican town that is home to a Smithfield-owned factory believe contaminated pig waste from the factory may have caused the swine flu epidemic. Health officials there have downplayed such fears and the company has said it has found no evidence of the disease at its farms, but Hamsher also noted the EPA sued Smithfield in the '90s over discharges of pollutants into Virginia waterways.

"They'd all addressed the Dominion [power] situation--I was looking around for someone else to ask about regarding the use of money for influence in politics," Hamsher said today about the question.

At the debate, McAuliffe said he's taken no money from Smithfield. Deeds said he was not sure--"I've been in elected office 22 years," he said. "I expect somewhere down the line, I've taken some money from Smithfield foods. I think if it were a significant check, I probably would have remembered it." Moran said he thought Smithfield's giving has leaned toward Republicans.

Using the amazing Virginia Public Access Project, we can take a closer look at Smithfield donation's. The nonprofit's database shows that Smithfield's political action committee has given $809,957 in contributions since 1998, 73 percent of it to Republicans. Those donations included almost $53,000 to Bob McDonnell when he was running for attorney general and $15,000 more to help fund McDonnell's inaugration. The company gave $148,000 to Jerry Kilgore when he ran for governor.

Despite Deeds' suggestion, Smithfield's PAC has not given him any money, nor has it given any to McAuliffe. Moran received $2,000 total from Smithfield when running for delegate, split between 2006 and 2007.

The company also gave to Gov. Tim Kaine and to Gov. Mark Warner before him.

A correction: Deeds did get $1,000, spread across 2007 and 2008, for his senate campaigns, as well as $1,250 for his attorney general's race.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 30, 2009; 3:06 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Terry McAuliffe  
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Next: More Money Pours Into Gov's Race


Typical sleaze...McDonnell's taken tens of thousands of dollars from Smithfield? I'm not even surprised.

Posted by: amy130 | May 1, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

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