- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Ex-peanut plant head testifies on salmonella

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) - A former manager of a south Georgia peanut processing plant linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak reviewed emails and documents and testified Wednesday about the company’s operations.

Wednesday marked Samuel Lightsey’s fourth day of testimony in the trial of his former boss at Peanut Corporation of America, Stewart Parnell, and two others. Peanut Corporation is blamed for a deadly 2008-09 salmonella outbreak that caused one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

Lightsey testified about documents that showed positive tests for salmonella; emails sent by company employees to customers telling them to hold the product because of “inconclusive” tests, which Lightsey said were actually positive; and documents that showed water sometimes got into the company’s product, which he said can lead to contamination.

Parnell and his brother, food broker Michael Parnell, are accused of shipping tainted products to customers and covering up lab tests showing they contained salmonella. Stewart Parnell and the Georgia plant’s quality assurance manager, Mary Wilkerson, also are charged with obstructing justice.

Defense attorneys have not yet started questioning Lightsey, who managed the plant from July 2008 until the company went bankrupt in 2009 following the outbreak. He pleaded guilty to seven criminal counts in May after reaching a deal with prosecutors.

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Tone harshens as governor race moves past primary

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The themes that will define Minnesota’s race for governor were on display Wednesday, as Republican nominee Jeff Johnson challenged the incumbent’s credentials while Democrats rushed to brand the opponent as a tea party extremist who would stunt progress they attribute to Gov. Mark Dayton.

Johnson’s three primary opponents rallied behind him hours after their defeat as the fall campaign started a 12-week sprint to election day. With the GOP’s hopes now squarely on Johnson’s shoulders, the Hennepin County commissioner said his former foes’ support was critical to give the party its best shot at taking back the governor’s office.

Dayton avoided a campaign-style appearance, choosing instead to attend a ceremony to mark a state-supported civic center expansion in Mankato.

Political groups and party leaders on both sides added their voices to the mix, foreshadowing an aggressive and expensive fight over the state’s top office. Johnson said he was bracing for fiercer attacks after a relatively tame primary campaign.

“They’re going to hammer me on everything under the sun,” he said of Democrats. “They’re going to turn me into a guy who wants to drown kittens in the river for fun. I think Minnesotans are just tired of that and I’m not going to engage in it.”

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Minnesota primary turnout estimated at 9.8 percent

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Secretary of State’s office estimates that only 9.8 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Minnesota’s primary election.

Spokesman Nathan Bowie says the turnout number is preliminary and unofficial. He says it won’t be finalized until counties finish submitting data. An official turnout figure will be certified when the state canvassing board meets next Tuesday.

The secretary of state’s initial projection before Tuesday’s primary was for turnout of 10 to 15 percent. While dismal, the preliminary unofficial figure is not as low as the official primary turnout of 9.28 percent in 2012 or 7.73 percent in 2004.

Nearly 3.9 million Minnesotans are eligible to vote.

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5 things to know about Minnesota’s primary races

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The primary election cleared up some intriguing questions and immediately set up some new ones. Before Minnesota digs in for the 12-week slog to November, here’s a quick rundown of the highlights in Tuesday’s races:

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THEN THERE WAS ONE

The sharp elbows never came out in the Republican governor primary, and in the end voters settled on reputed nice guy Jeff Johnson to try to make Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton a one-termer. Johnson seemed a bit more ready to bring the fight to Dayton over the next three months, allowing that while Dayton is “a good man” he’s also “in over his head.” Dayton was eager to engage, saying Monday he couldn’t wait to start to go after a single opponent’s record instead of trying to pick from four.

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