Monday, August 27, 2012

DeCoster, Land o Lakes reward friendly lawmakers

Many of you may recall last year's fight over a special bill to reduce labor protections for worker's at Austin Jack DeCoster's notorious egg farms, home to serial violations of labor, environmental, health, and worker safety laws of frankly jaw dropping magnitude. The bill -- sponsored by Rep. Dale Crafts (R-Lisbon Falls) and backed by Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake (R-Turner) -- was approved in commitee, but struck down after Sen. Chris Rector (R-Thomaston) and other lawmakers learned they had been deceived about the company's recent track record.

Decoster subsequently sold his holdings to Land o Lakes subsidiary Moark LLC, and last session the legislature passed the sought-after labor restrictions on the egg farms' behalf.

Now the legislators involved appear to be reaping their rewards. Austin Jack DeCoster has donated $100 each to Mr. Timberlake and Mr. Crafts' reelection efforts. His longtime farm manager Doucas Goranites -- foster brother and genetic first cousin of Sen. Olympia Snowe -- has given Timberlake the maximum allowed donation of $350.

For its part, Land o Lakes has given both lawmakers -- and another Turner-area legislator, Sen. Garrett Mason (R-Lisbon Falls) -- the maximum $350 each through Moark LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary based in Fontana, California. Two of Moark's employees, General Manager Blair Hagy and DeCoster Farms official Laurin Hagy, also gave $350 apiece to Rep. Crafts. Blair also gave Rep. Timberlake and Sen. Mason $350 apiece. Altogether, egg interests have added up to what amounts to significant money in legislative races, which are often won with a campaign chest of just a few thousand dollars.

In the world of money and politics, it's rare one finds a clear quid pro quo, but every once in a while...

(Cross-posted from the Press Herald's Open Season)

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