Archive for the ‘Poultry Lawsuit’ Category

Flashback: Turpen-Edmondson "Doing It For the Children" (and $268 million)

May 13, 2008

W. A. D. Edmondson taking a break in between cases. Is his golf club taller than he is?

Hearing that Edmondson and Turpen were again using a once-respected public affairs show to dissemble on the Oklahoma public reminds us of the fat (no pun intended) payout Turpen received as the result of his alliance with the attorney general.

Oklahoma will eventually receive $2.6 billion dollars in the national tobacco settlement. Edmondson appointed several law firms to walk off with the lottery earnings while the firms pretended to litigate on behalf of the citizens of the state. The hard working lawyers, who according to most reports spent no time in the courtroom, got $268 million in fees for their “strategic contribution.”

Six national law firms, including movie-lawyer-turned-criminal defendant Richard Scruggs, shared the winnings with among others, Riggs Abney of Tulsa. The law firms attempted to charge the taxpayers a rate of $6000 per hour, but gave the citizens a break since they are such good guys.

Scruggs has been busy these days, but Edmondson was able to bring Scruggs’ buddy Ron Motley into the poultry suit, which we’re sure he’s doing for the children and not in hopes of another obscene profit safari.

Related: Edmondson helps block term limits on himself

Drew Edmondson: Poster Child for Term Limits

April 23, 2008

Courtesy of one of our “Capitol reporters”

Drew Edmondson and his entourage filed into the House gallery on Thursday of last week to personally hear the debate and watch the vote on the state-wide elected official term limits bill (SB 1987). Edmondson was seen hastily walking out of the chamber in disgust of passage of the measure. Reportedly, Edmondson spent the rest of the morning arguing with fellow Democrat and lobbyist Pat Hall about this legislation passing the Senate and going to a vote of the people.

Edmondson is targeting Sen. Nancy Riley and Sen. Susan Paddack to change their orginal YES vote for term limits to a NO vote in the coming weeks. Seems Drew doesn’t want to leave his office anytime soon…


Yes, it’s true. Drew Edmondson, the four-time incumbent attorney general of Oklahoma, notorious for abusing the power of his office to prosecute honest supporters of Oklahomans’ citizen initiative rights, has publicly stated his opposition to a bill that would limit his tenure as well as that of other state officials. Read more The fight of the session: Term Limits v. Entrenched Incumbent

This Spring, or next Spring?

March 28, 2008

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and private attorneys have recently asked the court for an injunction against the poultry companies as part of a 2005 lawsuit, to stop the spreading of poultry litter near the Illinois River Watershed area before the “Spring Rains,” arrive.

Spring, however, arrived March 21, this year, and we’ve already had a lot of that Spring rain. Meanwhile, Attorney General Edmondson has asked the court for a four-month extension to produce expert witness reports. Spring 2008 will be a non-issue by then, of course. The court has granted a 45 day extension.

In three years of negotiations, these attorneys have not had time to gather the needed expert witness reports? Perhaps they meant Spring 2009?

But Cows Poop, Too!

March 12, 2008

So do “pigs, sheep, wild birds, deer, leaky septic tanks and city sewer plants.” This seems to be the argument from the poulty industry in response to Drew Edmondson’s arguments for stopping the disposal of chicken litter near the Illinois watershed, according to a report in the Arkansas Democrat and Gazette.

Edmondson, according to the report wasn’t impressed, and wondered if this all they’ve got:

That’s not a denial of the role they play. They’ve been saying there are other contributors. We’ve said ‘Yes, that’s true, but you are the biggest contributor.’ What separates the impact of poultry litter from cattle manure is timing. [Explaining that cow manurem for example is deposited by the cows year round, whereas poultry farmers saturate the ground with it in the Spring, at the beginning of the growing season, just as the weather is warming up and people start going to the river for recreational purposes].

People don’t canoe in those other rivers. We are willing to go where the evidence takes us. The evidence points at the poultry industry, not the cattle industry. We could be more active in fencing cattle away from streams and having setbacks from rivers, but if we want to get into the pollution of the Illinois River, the answer is in poultry.

Chicken Back-Scratching

March 11, 2008

Previously, OKPNS reported that the Poultry Industry called into question the use of private law firms on a contigency-fee basis for the state of Oklahoma in Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s case against several Arkansas poultry companies, which may not be in the best interest of Oklahomans

A motion was filed last year by Tyson foods, saying, such a practice “violates both the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions:”

The Contingency Fee Contract transgresses due process under both the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions because it inextricably commingles use of the State’s power by private attorneys with an executory obligation on the part of the State to provide these attorneys with massive private profit that varies depending on the results of the litigation.


Moreover, because the Contract commits a large percentage of any damages the State may recover to the State Contingency Lawyers in the absence of a specific legislative authorization, the Attorney General has violated the separation-of-powers provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution…

Also, we reported that there is a trend nationwide and in Oklahoma, for private law firms to financially support the campaigns of only Democrat Attorney’s General.

Now, Legal Newsline has discovered that the major law firm on Drew Edmondson’s lawsuit against the poultry industry, Riggs Abney, has been one of Drew Edmondson’s “most faithful [campaign] contributors:”

The Tulsa firm’s first public connection with Edmondson, who has been Oklahoma’s AG since 1992, appeared in the late 1990s. Riggs Abney was one of several Oklahoma firms that worked with Edmondson on the state’s tobacco settlement, which landed Oklahoma’s private attorneys $250 million from the final settlement – and Riggs Abney $30 million.

In the years since then, AG Edmondson and the Oklahoma Democratic Party have counted Riggs Abney as amongst their most faithful contributors. In the years 2001-2004, one researcher discovered, 15 attorneys at Riggs Abney donated almost $50,000 to Edmondson’s re-election campaigns.

Partners M. David Riggs and Mike Turpen were Edmondson’s largest individual donors within the firm, giving $8,600 and $8,100 respectively.

Poll – Drew Edmondson v. the Poultry Industry

March 10, 2008

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is currently suing the Poultry Industry, mostly in Arkansas, on the basis that too much fecal bacteria from the chicken farms is leeching into the Illinois watershed. For more information on OKPNS about this lawsuit click here. We’d like to know what you think.

Piling it On, Deeper and Deeper

March 5, 2008

The lawyers are still arguing over just exactly who is the most qualified to determine how much chicken litter is officially “safe” for Oklahoma’s water, and who’s scientific findings constitute “proof” or “evidence.”

It makes me very sad that the attorneys on both sides of this issue are the ones who will benefit financially from this ongoing lawsuit, at the expense of the farmers. And yet, something needs to be done.

I was talking to my Mother about this whole mess with Drew Edmondson and the poultry companies, and she recalled growing up on ranch in what is now North Tulsa, along Flat Rock Creek. They had a few chickens…enough for the family, and to sell a few eggs now and then. Mom said even several decades ago, it was a nasty, dirty little creek. But even so, Grandpa was so careful not to get chicken litter in that water, or use it on the land near the water, because all of the old farmers knew it was toxic for the livestock and wild animals that drank the water, and for the fish, and for any people who swam there.

And now, they’re discussing how much of this is going into the water in terms of TONS?!?! Who cares if it’s 175 tons or 350 tons a year…we’re talking about TONS of chicken “litter” going into the water where fish swim, where wild animals drink, where people swim…it’s even affecting the well water people drink in some places.

TONS. How can we think that’s ok? Amazing. And if they don’t think it’s harmful, then why don’t Arkansas poultry companies put it in their own water, and leave Oklahoma’s alone? (See the New York Times: THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Candidate’s Record; Arkansas Water Pollution Looms as a Campaign Issue)

Oklahoma Poultry Litter Lawsuit Threatens National Manure Transfer Industry

February 29, 2008

We reported earlier this week that Rick Stubblefield, Adair County representative of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission (OSRC) wrote a letter to the Tahlequah Daily Press, in which he explains that existing manure transfer programs are actually creating a shortage of fertilizer in the Oklahoma watershed area, rather than too much.

The Muskogee Phoenix is reporting today that Stubblefield, along with Steven Randall, also of the OSRC, also filed that information in a brief in federal court in support of the poultry industry.

The OSRC is denouncing this action, according to the report:

Oklahoma Scenic Rivers commissioners Gerald Hilsher and Ed Brocksmith said the motion, brief and supporting documents filed by Stubblefield and Randall are not supported by the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission.


Brocksmith said there has been no vote by the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission nor any discussion that would lend any official support or credence to Stubblefield and Randall’s request or assertions.

This discussion about the potential effect on manure transfer programs, however is happening on a national level. Rod Smith of Feedstuffs reports that a number of amicus curiae reports are being filed, and that,

Even cattle producers are lining up to defend the chicken and turkey producers in the action…Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) said the case has implications well beyond the watershed, Arkansas and Oklahoma and the poultry industry. He explained that an outcome supporting Edmondson would set a precedent that would establish litter and manure from livestock and poultry as hazardous waste and would expose livestock and poultry producers to significant cleanup costs and other penalties.

Poultry Litter…Shortage?!…in the Illinois Watershed

February 27, 2008

Rick Stubblefield, Adair County representative of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission wrote a letter to the Tahlequah Daily Press, in which he explains that the claims made by the private attorney’s Oklahoma Drew Edmondson has hired to represent Oklahoma against the Poultry industry, are “a joke,” to the farmers in the Illinois Watershed area:

…[T}here is just not enough poultry litter being produced to satisfy demand. Despite the exaggerated claims of Drew Edmondson, a chicken house only produces about 120 tons of poultry litter a year – and state agency records and assessor records show there are about 1,650 poultry houses in the Illinois River watershed. That gives the farming community about 200,000 total tons of poultry litter to use every year. Farmers outside the watershed use manure transfer program tax breaks to pay more than farmers in the watershed can afford to pay. The end result? There is not much left to use as fertilizer on fields in the Illinois River watershed.

He credits the Oklahoma Poultry Litter Transfer Program, for the shortage in the watershed area, explaining:

Farmers outside the watershed use manure transfer program tax breaks to pay more than farmers in the watershed can afford to pay. The end result? There is not much left to use as fertilizer on fields in the Illinois River watershed…. (more)

To learn more about Oklahoma’s Poultry Litter Transfer Program, see:

One down…

February 25, 2008

The battle between Drew Edmondson and the Poultry Industry has resulted in collateral damage, reports the Oklahoman. One poultry company has closed its Oklahoma operations, and waived its right to be present at the ongoing hearings.

Willow Brooke Farms, a turkey company based in Springfield, MO, has cited the cost of litigation as their reason for dropping out. They are still a defendent in the lawsuit, however.

The company only had one turkey farmer in Oklahoma, Larry Emerson, of Tahlequah, who told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, “He tried to prevent runoff and cooperated with authorities who tested his groundwater,” and said:

I thought at least we would always be able to retire if we did a good job
for whoever we were with. I never dreamed that the state of Oklahoma would take
away our income.