A spokesman for Republican candidate for Governor Doug Gross says Gross had nothing to do with a lawsuit challenging Iowa’s ban on meatpacker ownership of livestock, despite the fact the firm Gross manages is handling the case for Smithfield Farms.Gross campaign spokesman Eric Woolson says the law firm’s position is “irrelevant” as Woolson says Gross backs the state law Smithfield wants to get rid of. He says Gross believes the changes made were appropriate to close a gaping hole in the law in Iowa. Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack this morning attacked his Republican opponent for taking the case. Vilsack says Doug Gross, on the campaign trail, has “emotionally testified to his support for family farmers and his concern for rural Iowa” while “cooly and with detachment” directing legal work on behalf of a corporation that seeks to get the state to pay the legal fees for the lawsuit. Woolson says Gross doesn’t want taxpayers to bear the cost of the lawsuit. Gross took a leave of absence as managing partner of his law firm a day before the Smithfield lawsuit was filed, and Woolson says Gross was not involved in the preparation of the suit. Vilsack said this morning that’s hard to believe, but Woolson says Gross had little control over whether his firm took Smithfield’s lawsuit. Woolson says Gross didn’t have veto power over which cases lawyers in the firm accepted. According to Woolson, an out-of-state law firm approached Gross’ Des Moines law firm and asked it to help file the case in Iowa.
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