Judge Hears Hershey Sale Opponents Today

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania Attorney General Michael Fisher will be among those appearing a state court today in an attempt to nix the sale of Hershey Food Corp. to Nestle, according to a Reuters report, though his sincerity in the matter is being questioned.

The company was put on the block last month by its controlling shareholder, the Milton Hershey School Trust, which aims to diversify its holdings. But local opponents in Hershey, Pa. say the diversification violates provisions of the trust set up by founder Milton Hershey. They argue it could chip away at the school's financial resources and threaten its ability to serve underprivileged children who attend the school.

Craig Stark, executive director of the National Hershey Association -- a nonprofit group composed of Hershey employees, school alumni, and others -- said the group will file objections at a court hearing before Jude Warren Morgan here today. That move would come on top of another legal challenge by the school's alumni association, which was granted a hearing on its objections for this Friday.

Stark and others, including activist Brad Reese, whose grandfather founded the H.B. Reese Candy Co., also maintain that Attorney General Fisher should dismiss himself from the case, since public filings show that he has accepted at least $60,000 in campaign contributions from Buchanan Ingersoll, a large Pennsylvania law firm that represents the Trust and would theoretically press its interests.

A spokesman for Buchanan Ingersoll said the firm supports "a number of political candidates for good government" including the two major parties' candidates for governor -- Republican Fisher and his Democratic opponent, former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell.

Fisher has come out opposed to the sale, but these activists maintain that Fisher's opposition is all for "appearance" and that he should appoint a "special master" to review the merits of the sale.
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