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56 NC politicians voted to protect Chinese billionaires over North Carolina families

Everyday, many rural North Carolina families wake up to the stench and residue of hog waste. It clings on their clothes, sticks to the walls of their houses, covers their yards, and for years it has prevented neighboring kids from experiencing the fun of an outside birthday party.

Chinese-owned pork producers like Smithfield Foods are responsible for ruining the property values of nearby homeowners and small farmers. But their pay-to-play contributions to state politicians paved the way for House Bill 467, which gives special protections to the giant pork producers, effectively weakening nuisance laws and protecting them from a variety of legal claims.

Recognizing their blatant attempt to stop pending litigation related to 26 lawsuits filed against Smithfield Foods subsidiary Murphy-Brown, lawmakers narrowly voted to amend the bill so that it would only apply to future litigation. Yet 56 House members still voted to protect Smithfield Foods from current litigation by opposing the amendment.

Republican lawmakers Hugh Blackwell and John Blust called out their influence peddling GOP colleagues. 

"The bill is only addressing the pending litigation. That’s what it’s for," said Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke. "The defendant is worried about losing, and so they’re asking us to pull their chestnuts out of the fire. That’s not our job."

"We are involving ourselves as a legislature as picking a winner in a lawsuit," said Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford. "We don’t need at the last minute to be rushing in to bail out a defendant, and that’s what happened." 

It’s no surprise that many of the representatives that voted to protect Smithfield received pork industry campaign contributions. According to research done by IndyWeek, the top beneficiaries of the pork industry’s generosity are the usual suspects including bill sponsor Rep. Jimmy Dixon at a whopping $115,000, Speaker Tim Moore at $44,650, and Rep. David Lewis at $36,500.

Contribution research courtesy of IndyWeek:

House Member

Amendment Vote: Protect Smithfield Foods from Pending Litigation

Contributions from Pork Industry

John Bell - R

Yes

$12,850

William Brisson - D

Yes

$11,750

Justin Burr - R

Yes

$1,000

Jimmy Dixon - R

Yes

$115,000

Josh Dobson - R

Yes

$750

Nelson Dollar - R

Yes

$5,050

John Fraley - R

Yes

$500

Kenneth Goodman - D

Yes

$2,000

Jon Hardister - R

Yes

$500

D. Craig Horn - R

Yes

$500

Patricia Hurley - R

Yes

$1,250

Linda Johnson - R

Yes

$3,500

Jonathan Jordan - R

Yes

$4,500

Donny Lambeth - R

Yes

$500

David Lewis - R

Yes

$36,500

Susan Martin - R

Yes

$1,000

Pat McElraft - R

Yes

$1,500

Allen Ray McNeil - R

Yes

$500

Tim Moore - R

Yes

$44,650

Michele Presnell - R

Yes

$2,500

Dennis Patrick Riddell - R

Yes

$500

Jason Saine - R

Yes

$2,000

Bob Steinburg - R

Yes

$4,250

Sarah Stevens - R

Yes

$750

Larry Craig Strickland - R

Yes

$750

John David Szoka - R

Yes

$10,000

John Torbett - R

Yes

$250

Rena Turner - R

Yes

$1,000

Donna White - R

Yes

$500

Walter Lee Zachary Jr. - R

Yes

$500