Continued from page 1

Mr. Ribble is hardly the only lawmaker to benefit from Dean Foods‘ political largesse. The Dean Foods political action committee spent more than $700,000 during the 2010 election cycle, giving generously to Democrats and Republicans alike, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The PAC gave $30,000 each to the Democratic and Republican fundraising arms for both the House and Senate.

In addition, Dean Foods spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to influence lawmakers and federal agencies last year, according to Senate lobbying records.

The company came under scrutiny from federal and state regulators last year challenging its purchase of a milk plant in Wisconsin. Authorities said it created a monopoly, leaving many customers and school districts with one supplier.

“We are committed to protecting consumers by ensuring vigorous competition among milk producers,” Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, said after the settlement late last month.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, said the settlement would “help break a monopoly that has been bankrupting Wisconsin dairy farmers.” A fellow Democrat, Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, called the settlement “welcome news for Wisconsin consumers.”

Mr. Moody, the Ribble spokesman, called the settlement “fairly straightforward” and noted that “these types of merger and acquisition issues arise and are managed fairly regularly.”