A liberal group is asking asking state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler to answer questions about his department's behavior during a raid last month on a Butterball turkey farm in Hoke County last month.
Butterball officials were tipped off about the raid by a veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Mason, with the state Department of Agriculture, according to reports on WTVD and WRAL.
“It is absolutely inappropriate for any public official to tamper with a law enforcement investigation, much less, tip off an offender about a upcoming raid,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress North Carolina in a statement. “Commissioner Troxler has some serious questions to answer about his agency's attitude towards the rule of law.”
The raid had been spurred by hidden camera videos taken by an animal rights group called Mercy for Animals, whose activists had worked undercover at the farm for three weeks.
The Hoke County District Attorney's office had contacted the agriculture department prior to the raid to inquire whether they wanted to assist with the inspection of the turkeys. Officials charged that an the director of animal health programs contacted a veterinarian employed by Butterball “and informed them she had heard there was an investigation into Butterball farm in Hoke County.
The search warrant seized phone records between the department of agriculture and Butterball from five days before the raid until late last week, according to ABC News.