The company’s “gifts” took down Bill Clinton’s Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy in 1994. Espy himself was later acquitted, but Tyson executive Archie Schaffer III was convicted for trying to influence Espy, and his fellow Arkansan Clinton pardoned him (with the support of the WSJ edit page) before he could serve any time. Tyson the company pleaded guilty and paid $6 million in the scandal.

The company and/or its employees has violated SEC, environmental, and immigration (the company itself was acquitted on this last one) laws as well.

A 2002 Times story quoted company critics saying this was a cultural issue, “that Tyson’s growth and its transgressions rise from the same devil-may-care philosophy that the Tyson family, which tightly controls the company, has imbued it with from the start.”

That seems like as good an explanation as any for its jaw-dropping response to the bribery in Mexico.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.