Lawn and garden company Scotts Miracle-Gro will pay $12.5 million in civil and criminal penalties on charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company pleaded guilty Friday to applying a toxic insecticide to its birdseed and falsifying pesticide registrations and agreed to pay a $4 million fine. It also reached an agreement with the EPA for violations and will pay more than $6 million in penalties and $2 million on environmental projects.
The company made other news recently when it donated $200,000 to the Mitt Romney-aligned Restore Our Future super PAC in June, one of the first publicly-traded companies to give money to such groups this cycle.
When asked about its donation, the company's CEO said, “Business leaders have to make decisions based on what they believe is best for their shareholders and associates. We have a history of supporting candidates and causes we believe will help strengthen our business.”
The settlement with Scotts Miracle-Gro and the donation by the company to assist Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a candidate who has called for weakened EPA regulations, highlights the problem with our current campaign finance system. Companies like Scotts Miracle-Gro, when they don’t like current law, can just spend big money to elect those who will change it. Or, in the company's words, do what's best for shareholders--even if it means poisoning our environment.
Scotts is not the first Romney supporter who has had run-ins with the law. Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands faces several investigations into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Mr. Adelson and his wife have given $10 million to Romney's super PAC and both Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have held private meetings with him.