Blumenauer Calls for Investigation Into Alleged Misuse of Public Funds by Anti Pot Campaign
Friday, September 05, 2014
In a letter to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Information and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Blumenauer called for an investigation to determine whether federal taxpayer dollars are being used illegally to fund a campaign for a no vote on Measure 91, which concerns the legalization of marijuana in the state.
Blumenauer alleges that a state summit in Central Oregon and a statewide "Oregon marijuana education tour" are using federal grant money for the events. The headliner for the Oregon Marijuana tour, Kevin Sabet, is a high profile opponent of marijuana legalization.
"Kevin Sabet has been called 'the quarterback of the new anti-drug movement' and has travelled extensively across the country trying to stop states and local jurisdictions from legalizing marijuana," says Blumenauer. Eric Martin, the other main speaker, has written extensively about the negative effects of marijuana.
According to Blumenauer, newspaper advertisements for the tour have been paid for by federal taxpayer dollars in at least one Oregon newspaper. He attaches pictures of advertisements for the tour in the Lake County Examiner.
Blumenauer alleges that the point of contact for these advertisements was a staff member for a non profit that contracts with Jefferson County and receives federal dollars. He alleges this staff member is also, according to the Oregon Secretary of State voters' pamphlet, the director of the 'No on 91' Political Action Committee.
"The fact that the campaign director for 'No on 91' is also listed by the non-profit as a lead staff member to contact to place the ads is problematic at best," says Blumenauer. "In addition the same non-profit published a guide titled 'Marijuana Educational Ads Statewide Media Campaign Summary' which provides a stratgey on how the ads should be targeted, including a category for general voters. Using public dollars to try and target general voters seems very suspect, and should be investigated."
Blumenauer included an attachment to his letter from the nonprofit group, Best Care Treatment Services, about their marijuana educational ads and a statewide marijuana summit.
Cindy Brockett a prevention specialist at Best Care Treatment Services who is listed as the contact person for advertising on the groups' website said there was “no connection” between the No on 91 campaign and Best Care. “I didn’t have anything to do with any campaign,” Brockett said. “I did not buy ads”
According to Clatsop County District Attorney Joshua Maruqis, who is also mentioned in the Blumenauer letter, the individual being referred to is Mandi Puckett, who "took a leave of absence [from Best Care] without pay about a month ago, and is working on the No on 91 campaign."
Blumenauer also alleges that many of the 'Oregon Marijuana Education Tour' stops are being organized by county employees, who are on the government payroll. Blumenauer says the State of Oregon informed the counties to not use federal grant money for the tour or materials related to the tour. "It is my understanding that even after the State issued their order, county employees are still listed as site coordinators for the tour," says Blumenauer.
Measure 91 will come before Oregonians in the November ballot.