CA-GOV: The Spinach
At Political Muscle, the new LA Times blog, Robert Salladay notes that, despite a nationwide ban on a produce product that will cost state growers nearly $100 million dollars, nobody seems to be linking this catastrophe to the Governor and his failed regulatory authority. Indeed, Salladay links to a Sacramento Bee report that shows the company largely responsible for the E.coli outbreak "has struggled to manage its wastewater and is in violation of a state water disposal permit, according to public records and state officials." Now, of course, we would expect this to be resolved before it resulted in an outbreak of this kind. But Salladay adds:
And now let me add the political twist. The distributor of the offending Natural Selection spinach is Dole Foods, which undoubtedly has been hit financially by the voluntary recall of packaged spinach. Dole Foods is owned by David Murdock, the 83-year-old healthy-living advocate and philanthropist who is also good friends with Schwarzenegger.
Last year, Schwarzenegger declared Dole Foods an "honor roll company" for helping fight obesity with portable salad bars in K-12 public schools and other healthy-eating programs. Murdock and his company, Castle & Cooke, and its executives have donated $304,600 to Schwarzenegger's various campaigns since 2002.
So we're talking about a wealthy contributor who has benefited from lax regulatory oversight, leading to a national ban on spinach that not only affects that grower but farmers in the entire state. Those who remain impacted in three counties in the state (San Benito, Santa Clara and Monterey) need to know about this comfy relationship between the governor and the head of Dole Foods.