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US Rep Calls For Fed Investigation Over Anti-Pot Initiative Campaign

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marijuana prohibitionUS Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has called on the directors of the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration top investigate allegations of illegal use of public taxpayer funds to influence Oregon’s upcoming vote on marijuana legalization, known as Measure 91.

As we have been reporting, officials opposed to Measure 91 have been involved with the creation and promotion of a so-called “educational” summit and tour slated to begin in the first week of October, just a week before Oregonians (who vote entirely by mail) will be receiving their ballots to vote on marijuana legalization.  The events feature Kevin Sabet, the co-founder of the anti-legalization group Project SAM, who just last January testified before the Oregon legislature against this same measure when it was a bill.

“The bias of the speakers selected, the overall one-sided focus of the events, and the proximity between these events and the upcoming election are cause for concern,” writes Congressman Blumenauer.  “Newspaper advertisements for the tour have been paid for by federal taxpayer dollars in at least one Oregon newspaper and there has been an effort to try and promote the ads and get them placed in other venues.”

Congressman Blumenauer also notes that the person listed as the contact for the “educational” tour is both “a staff member for a nonprofit that contracts with Jefferson County and receives federal dollars” and “the Director of the No on 91 Political Action Committee.”  Even after the state director of the Addictions and Mental Health division informed counties that participation in the tour would constitute a political act, “county employees are still listed as site coordinators for the tour.”  Rep. Blumenauer notes that “some of the prevention coordinators are employed by non-profits which are contracted to provide services to the counties. These non-profits receive federal grants, either directly or indirectly, and as a result are subject to the same rules and regulations regarding political activity and federal funds.”

While federal law expressly forbids these kinds of election shenanigans, Oregon law is even stricter.  “The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that public employees may be found personally liable for returning any taxpayer funds (including federal dollars) that were misused for political purposes,” concludes Rep. Blumenauer.  “It would be extremely unfortunate for well-meaning public servants to be put in such an onerous position.”

Rep. Blumenauer’s letter and attachments are available at RadicalRuss.com.

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About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.