It's embarrassing when leaders of your own party get their snouts in the feeding trough, but that's precisely what happened last night in Raleigh. Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, hosted the House Democrats for a big slopping at the N.C. Museum of Art, on the eve of the Democrat caucus today when Democrats will be selecting their leaders for the upcoming legislative session. (Raleigh News & Observer account here.)
Smithfield Foods, located in Virginia, said it was just feeding the pigs, that there was no ulterior motive. "It's not about us," a Smithfield spokeswoman said. "It's just about having a good time." Yeah, we believe that!
It's tough to believe the "nobody here but us good-timers" explanation in light of this:
"Lawmakers have extended a moratorium on new hog lagoons because they are concerned about the lagoons' impact on drinking water. Four years ago, Smithfield signed a pact with the state to help develop alternatives to the lagoons. A professor at N.C. State University is close to recommending two alternatives that may be more environmentally sound -- but also more costly to the industry."
And even if the dinner last night was NOT hard-core lobbying by an industry with no good intentions for the future of North Carolina's air and water, EVEN IF ... it's still unseemly for legislators to accept such gratuities. It's humiliating for us rank-and-file Democrats out here in the hinterlands, trying to do the right thing. It's infuriating to environmentalists of every political stripe. It's ... it's positively REPUBLICAN!