Poultry executives donate last-minute to Askins

Two officials with Tyson Foods and the owner of Simmons Foods gave the maximum $5,000 contribution to Democratic Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins' bid for governor. Her opponent, Attorney General Drew Edmondson, filed a federal pollution lawsuit against those and several other poultry firms.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: July 28, 2010
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Company executives with three Arkansas poultry companies being sued in the state of Oklahoma's federal pollution case donated $22,000 in the closing hours of Lt. Gov. Jari Askins' Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign, reports filed Tuesday show.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson, whose office brought the lawsuit, opposed Askins in Tuesday's primary election.

Companies being sued include Tyson Foods, Simmons Foods and George's Inc.

John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, and Don Tyson, chief executive officer of Tyson Foods, donated the maximum contribution amount of $5,000 to Askins' campaign, reports filed with the state Ethics Commission show.

Mark Simmons, owner of Simmons Foods, also gave the maximum $5,000 while Todd Simmons, president and chief operating officer of Simmons Foods, gave $1,000.

Gary C. George and Gene George, executives with George's, each gave $3,000 to her campaign, reports show. All the companies are in Springdale, Ark.

Oklahoma sued the poultry industry in 2005, saying the companies are to blame for polluting the northeastern Oklahoma watershed with tons of chicken manure.

The poultry companies say the waste is the responsibility of their contract growers.

Testimony in the trial in Tulsa federal court ended earlier this year. A judge has yet to make a ruling.

Askins reported Tuesday, the day of the primary election, receiving $26,750 in last-minute contributions. Her total raised overall is $2.17 million.

Edmondson has raised about $2.6 million.

U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City, reported receiving $3,000 in contributions, putting her overall total at $2.53 million. Her nearest GOP challenger, state Sen. Randy Brogdon, of Owasso, has raised $418,177.



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