JACKSON (Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007) – Democratic nominee for Commissioner
of Agriculture Rickey Cole charged today that incumbent Republican
Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell should bear most of the blame for
wasting $55 million in taxpayer money on a failed beef plant.

“Lester Spell is the only elected official in this state who bears the
full-time responsibility of promoting and protecting Mississippi
Agriculture,” Cole said. “And in the instance of the beef plant, Spell
failed miserably. The buck stops with Lester Spell.”

“His surrogates and ghost writers can blame it on the Legislature, the
Mississippi Development Authority, Richard Hall, Mississippi State, the
Chinese, global warming, or bad karma,” Cole said. “But in all state
government matters involving agriculture in Mississippi, Lester Spell is,
by virtue of his office, the principal voice, the ‘biggest bull in the
woods’, so to speak.”

Cole served three years as chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party
and worked full-time for fifteen years growing and marketing fresh produce
from his family’s 160 acre farm near Ovett. On the November 6thballot he
faces Spell, a newly-converted Republican who served twenty years as Mayor
of Richland before being elected agriculture commissioner as a Democrat
twelve years ago.

Cole, has criticized Spell’s failed beef plant, calling it nothing more
than a poorly planned scheme to open a “potted meat plant”. While Spell’s
friends have defended him in letters that have appeared in several
newspapers, Cole said that won’t help.

“Were there other elected officials involved?” Cole said. “Of course, and
they have constituents in their districts who are no doubt asking them
pointed questions during this election year.”

“But there is only one candidate on the ballot in all eighty-two counties
who can be held to account for the failure of the Beef Plant. And that
candidate is the same man who, by virtue of his office, could have publicly
sounded the alarm and stopped the beef plant project dead in its tracks.”

Cole said that Spell failed to do adequate research, made colossal errors
in judgment, ignored expert advice and stubbornly pushed ahead long after
the project was clearly doomed. And, Cole said, Spell has tried to shift
blame to others rather than apologize to the people.

“Without the vocal and energetic support of our distinguished, learned
and esteemed Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Lester Spell, DVM (Spell is a
veterinarian), there would never have been a Beef Plant, and the taxpayers
would never have lost $55 million dollars,” Cole said.

“That is a fact which Spell and his surrogates cannot obscure, no matter
how many letters they write to editors, no matter how many expensive ads
they buy, and no matter how many convoluted explanations they make,” Cole
said. “They need to remember an old axiom of politics: ‘When you’re
explaining, you’re losing.”

Rickey Cole Campaign Release
8/17/7