'Big Chicken': Thad Cochran at Center of Poultry's Amnesty Lobbying Racket

The godfather of Mississippi's largest and most powerful industry – one that has longed push for more lenient immigration law's to help provide cheap labor – is Sen. Thad Cochran's fundraising chairman, the Daily Caller's Neil Munro writes in a richly reported piece.

Joe Sanderson, the owner of Sanderson Farms, the third largest chicken processor nationwide, is a longtime ally of lobbyist and former Gov. Haley Barbour now helping Cochran's reelection efforts.

Slaughterhouse work, Barbour said at a pro-amnesty Bipartisan Policy Center event recently, is “nasty, dirty work where every day the [workers] come home covered in blood and guts, veins and feet and feathers.” Convicted criminals, Barbour argues, won’t even work there on work release. “The inmates, they won’t stay two days, they’d rather be in a penitentiary than work in a chicken plant,” he said.

As such, with conditions so gruesome and apparently no American workers to fill the jobs, Barbour argues they have to hire illegal aliens. “You go into a chicken-processing plant anywhere in Mississippi, and if you can find somebody on the floor who speaks English, I’ll give you $100,” Barbour said during the pro-amnesty event.

Sanderson even recently said that Barbour’s political network in Mississippi is one in the same with Cochran’s campaign now, telling Politico: “I do believe they are virtually the same people.”

Sanderson also employs former Sen. Lott as its main lobbyist, Munro reports, writing that Lott “works Capitol Hill to get more immigrant workers, while his friend Barbour is working through the Bipartisan Policy Center.”

Sanderson paid Lott's firm $80,000 in just the last three months of 2013 between Lott and two Patton Boggs lobbyists who were paid to push for health inspection rule changes, amnesty and an increase in imported foreign labor.

Cochran has voted against major amnesty proposals throughout his career but earned relatively low marks from anti-amnesty groups for his votes on a series of lesser bills.

Besides the industry's work on immigration, Munro details how processing giants like Sanderson Farms keep smaller farms under strict control with ruthless efficiency. In particular, Sanderson has helped smaller farms obtain low-cost federal loans, which then put the farms into the larger firm's debt.

Immigration has become an issue front and center in six-term incumbent Cochran’s re-election campaign, as his surging primary challenger Tea Party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel has forced it to the top of his list of things to focus on. This past week, McDaniel signed a new anti-amnesty pledge that also calls for no increase in foreign workers put together by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)—a move that earned him the endorsement of radio’s Laura Ingraham.

Cochran, meanwhile, refuses to sign the pledge—telling reporters on Capitol Hill he didn't know a lot about it.


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