Washington, D.C. – Emails released today by national consumer group Food & Water Watch reveal an unnervingly close and direct relationship between Governor Martin O’Malley and chicken giant Perdue. Seventy pages of emails, mostly between Governor O’Malley and Herb Frerichs, Perdue’s general counsel, illustrate the strong hold the industry has on Governor O’Malley on topics ranging from waste incineration to the lawsuit brought by the University of Maryland Legal Clinic against Perdue and one of its contract growers.
“They’re disgraceful,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “These emails show the dark side of corporate power in politics. In Maryland’s case, Governor O’Malley is clearly compromised by a cozy relationship with Perdue on issues pertaining to agriculture and the Bay’s pollution problems.”
In one email exchange on November 5 and 6 of last year, in response to criticism from Frerichs on the performance of the Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Earl “Buddy” Hance on the issue of manure to energy, O’Malley responded “I’m guessing you don’t have the personal email of governors of DE or VA [Delaware and Virginia], so let me know when Buddy can/should be doing more to help you push stuff.”
On November 17, 2011, the date that Governor O’Malley released his letter to the University of Maryland Law Clinic criticizing them on their involvement in the case against Perdue and contract growers Kristin and Alan Hudson, Frerichs sent an email to the Governor that said simply: “Very nice”.
Food & Water Watch released the emails a day before O’Malley was rumored to have a private meeting scheduled with industry and environmental representatives to disclose his long-awaited Nutrient Management Plan regulations, which would place limits on the way the industry can handle its waste. Food & Water Watch expects them to openly ignore the recommendations of local scientists, including prohibiting winter application after November 1 and enhancing monitoring and enforcement requirements.
“Governor O’Malley is very clearly henpecked by Perdue,” said Hauter. “As long as Perdue is writing ag policy in Maryland, the Bay will continue to succumb to environmental disaster.”