27 Oct 2006
Poultry industry representatives in Arkansas are outraged at a media campaign initiated by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson Thursday, which features commercials accusing them of using rivers like open sewers.
"Such outrageous statements defy logic and truth," said Mark Simmons, chairman of Simmons Foods in Arkansas.
Edmondson is suing 14 Arkansas poultry companies contending their chicken litter is fouling Oklahoma waterways.
Edmondson is running for re-election against Republican attorney James Dunn, who has pledged to toss the lawsuit his first day in office if elected. The Oklahoma State University has reported that the law suit is the key issue in the race for the attorney-general
In the ad, which began airing in on 14 October, Edmondson mentions the lawsuit and
criticizes the poultry industry.
The poultry industry contends the lawsuit could harm Oklahoma ranchers who raise chickens for Arkansas companies named in the lawsuit.
"(Edmondson) turned his hired gun, contingency-fee tobacco lawyers loose on hardworking Oklahoma farmers," Simmons said.
Edmondson said the poultry industry continues to deny pollution of the watershed, but was open to negotiating a settlement before going to trial in 2008.
"I don't think it’s going to happen in the next 12 days," said Edmondson, referring to the 7 November midterm elections. "I'm ready to sit down at the table; I'm also ready to litigate."
Simmons said his industry decided a month ago not to run ads specifically mentioning Edmondson until after the election, but couldn't remain silent after the latest television ads.