Animal group donation arises in Mo. Senate race

Thursday, June 21, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A donation to a California-based organization dedicated to protecting farm animals emerged Wednesday as the most recent squabble in the Missouri Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

The farm discord started when a state lawmaker who supports Republican Sarah Steelman criticized GOP rival John Brunner over a $10,000 donation made by the Brunner Foundation to the Humane Farming Association.

Missouri Rep. Jason Smith said the farm animal group has sought to overhaul the pork industry and criticized "industrial farming," and that the charitable donation creates concerns that Brunner has used his "personal wealth to attack our rural way of life." Smith, R-Salem, added that the Humane Farming Society seems "more radical" than the Humane Society of the United States, which has garnered particular ire from some Missourians after that organization pursued changes to state regulations for the dog breeding industry.

Brunner dismissed the criticism, noting that one of his children made the contribution in 2007, and said families should remain free from political attacks.

Brunner, who said he personally never has supported the Humane Farming Association, said he is proud of his children but does not always agree with the decisions they make.

"I firmly stand with Missouri farmers who are in constant struggle against extreme groups like the Humane Farming Association and the Humane Society of the United States that seek to end the agriculture industry in Missouri," Brunner said.

Disagreement among the Republican candidates recently has focused more on spending after Brunner charged in a TV ad this month that his two main rivals had "manufactured" debt based upon the votes they cast as lawmakers.

Steelman, the former state treasurer; Brunner, a St. Louis businessman; and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin are among the Republicans competing in the Aug. 7 primary. The winner faces Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

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