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A Government-Backed Pickle Company?

By Stansberry Research Interview Series
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Barack Obama loves pickles. 
 
OK, well he may not truly love them, but the Obama household has a thing for pickles. Barack's wife, Michelle, serves as a director at TreeHouse Foods (THS). And Tree House owns Bay Valley Foods, the largest pickle supplier and No. 1 packer of private-label pickles in the U.S.
 
For her service, Michelle has received $64,000 in cash and stock grants worth roughly $58,000. Michelle's tenure as a director ends during 2007, well before the 2008 election. 
 
But one only has to look at our current administration to see what these kinds of relationships can produce. Vice President Dick Cheney received a severance package of $13.6 million when he left his position as CEO of Halliburton (HAL). Cheney chose to receive the compensation over five years, so he was on HAL's payroll well into his first term. 
 
During its two terms in office, the Bush/Cheney Administration has funneled more than $11 billion in contracts to HAL. I'm not saying every single dollar was corrupt, because HAL received contracts from the Clinton administration too – but it's clear to me that the government's relationship with HAL isn't squeaky clean. 
 
Will the same thing happen to pickles if Obama makes the oval office? Will Obama promote legislation that benefits food retailers? Who knows? But I'd pay close attention to TreeHouse if Obama gets elected. 
 
I'd also keep an eye on financials firms. 
 
Securities and investment firms have contributed $1.3 million to Obama's 2008 campaign. As an industry, they are the third-largest contributors so far, comprising 2% of his $58 million war chest. 
 
Obama's not the only democrat highly favored by financials. 
 
Financials and real estate firms are the second- and third-largest contributors, respectively, to Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign. So far, Clinton has received $1.7 million in campaign financing from securities and investment firms and $1.4 million from real estate firms. Combined, the two have contributed 5% of her $62 million war chest. 
 
It's much the same for the Republican candidates. 
 
With $44 million, Mitt Romney currently leads the Republican party in fund raising… $1.9 million of that came from securities and investment firms. Another $1.6 million came from real estate. However, another group popped up as a top contributor to Romney's campaign… 
 
Hedge funds. 
 
Altogether, hedge funds and private-equity firms have contributed $597,000 to Mitt Romney's campaign, nearly twice the $333,000 they've given to Hillary Clinton and more than three times the $161,000 they've given to Barack Obama. Hedge funds also favor Rudy Giuliani, having contributed $358,000 to his 2008 campaign. 
 
I'll look around for a few companies that are particularly big donors for these candidates. I can't promise we'll get another Halliburton-type boondoggle, but there's bound to be more to the 2008 candidate-donor relationships than pickles. 
 
Good trading, 
 
Graham




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