Marijuana opponents are a crafty, shifty bunch. They will do just about whatever it takes to keep marijuana prohibition in place, even if that means sometimes bending or even breaking the rules. That appears to be the case in Washington D.C., where it is being alleged that marijuana opponents violated campaign finance laws. In August leading up to Election Day, a group called ‘TIE D.C.’, formally launched a campaign to oppose the marijuana legalization initiative in D.C. (Initiative 71). However, the campaign didn’t play by the rules according to officials. Per the DCist:
According to documents from the Office of Campaign Finance obtained by DCist, TIE. D.C. was in violation of several campaign finance laws, including failure to officially register as a political committee, failure to file a financial report, and failure to include proper language on its campaign literature.
In response to the allegations against TIE D.C., head William Jones testified in a recent hearing with the OCF that “TIE D.C. was nothing more than a blog that he started to inform the public about the proposed initiative by voting against it.” Jones also stated that he was the chairperson for the “No On 71” initiative, which he argued was the political committee he started to officially campaign against marijuana legalization.
But on September 17, 2014, TIE D.C. officially launched what was perceived to be a bona fide campaign. They even held a press conference outside of the Bible Way Church to announce their campaign. “T.I.E. D.C. is committed to protecting these communities and the rest of the city from the consequences of legalizing a third recreational drug,” Jones said at the presser in September.
According to the OCF’s allegations, TIE D.C. “may have begun as a blog, but it eventually became a full scale political movement, which was required to register with the OCF,” but it never did. Moreover, the OCF says that TIE D.C. never filed a receipt and expenditure report, which any organization or committee raising funds for campaigning are supposed to do.
The Office of Campaign Finance has recommended a $2,000 fine for the violations, which is a slap on the wrist in the world of politics. It will likely not dissuade others from trying the same tactic. However, it’s still significant to get the violation on record because it discredits the marijuana opponents, and can be something that can be pointed to in future elections where marijuana opponents will no doubt be active.