Local News

Farmers For Fairness Face Further Friction

Posted April 14, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— A second North Carolina lawmaker claimed that the Farmers for Fairness are not following the rules.

The Moore County legislator is accusing the pro-hog group of violating state election laws by acting as a political action committee.

The Board of Elections decided a few weeks ago Farmers For Fairness must register as a PAC before it runs ads targeting political candidates.

The group, financed by the state's largest hog farmers, has not done that yet. Earlier this week, the farmers launched another ad critical of one of its political opponents.

This ad by the industry association Farmers For Fairness shows discontent with Moore County Representative Richard Morgan, who is running for re-election.

"What I did not anticipate was there'd be attack ads by Farmers for Fairness," Morgan said.

Morgan filed a complaint with the Board of Elections because of the board ruling that the state's largest hog producers must register as a political action committee before airing more ads targeting political candidates.

"It seems to me that they're trying to flout the board of elections ruling," Morgan said.

Joe Cheschire, the attorney for the hog industry, disputed Morgan's claim, and stated that the board's ruling has not been signed into effect, and "It just shows his ignorance of the law. Also it shows the continuing attempt by these legislators to keep the true facts from coming out by using state agencies to fight their political battles."

The order requiring Farmers for Fairness to register as a PAC will be signed into effect by early next week, but the group plans to file an appeal with Wake County Superior Court.

The group will also request a stay, which would allow them to continue running ads, until there's a ruling on the appeal.

There is little argument that the North Carolina's pork industry plays a big role in politics. During the 1996 election, season pro-pork interests donated $420,000 to campaigns.

The pork industry also spent $170,000 in lobbying expenses. 80% of the winners in the 1996 elections received contributions from pro-pork groups.