Meat Industry INSIGHTS Newsletter

970605 Tyson Formally Named as "Target" in Probe of Espy

Tyson Foods Inc said that it was formally designated a target in an investigation regarding the acceptance of gifts by former Secretary of Agriculture Michael Espy.

Tyson said it had expected to be named in the ongoing investigation by Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz. "The company deplores the Independent Counsel's apparent view that acts of common hospitality -- consisting of a couple of meals and a football game -- can rise to the level of criminal conduct in the absence of any attempt by the company to exploit its virtually non-existent relationship with Mr. Espy," the company said.

Tyson Foods said it is prepared to defend any charges which may result from the investigation and the company characterized the investigation as "misguided" and a waste of money.

In May 1993, Espy was invited to a party hosted by poultry tycoon and now retired chairman Don Tyson and all 120 guests were provided food and lodging. About seven months later, Espy received tickets to watch a Dallas Cowboys football game at Tyson's corporate box at Texas Stadium.

Espy was in Texas on official travel, the company said. "Absolutely no business matters of any nature whatsoever were discussed with Mr. Espy at either event," Tyson Foods said in the statement.

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