Report alleges Marino took money from the drug industry.
President Donald Trump has announced that his pick for drug czar Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) has withdrawn from consideration after a report alleges he helped with legislation that makes it harder for the DEA to go after drug companies that allegedly supply corrupt doctors and pharmacies with narcotics like opioids.
Trump said he will declare a national emergency on the opioid epidemic next week.
Marino has served the 10th district of Pennsylvania since 2010. But after this report, the Democrats have come after Marino, stating that he has become “part of a growing scandalized culture among House Republicans.”
(I love how they say that as Sen. Bob Menendez is on trial for corruption and their part is in disarray. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee even said that this is just the latest piece that will make it hard for the GOP to keep its majority.)
But I digress. Over the weekend, The Washington Post and 60 Minutes released a report on this legislation that passed in 2016:
The new law makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the companies, according to internal agency and Justice Department documents and an independent assessment by the DEA’s chief administrative law judge in a soon-to-be-published law review article. That powerful tool had allowed the agency to immediately prevent drugs from reaching the street.
Political action committees representing the industry contributed at least $1.5 million to the 23 lawmakers who sponsored or co-sponsored four versions of the bill, including nearly $100,000 to Marino and $177,000 to Hatch. Overall, the drug industry spent $102 million lobbying Congress on the bill and other legislation between 2014 and 2016, according to lobbying reports.
It only “passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) negotiated a final version with the DEA.” President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in April 2016.
Michael Botticelli, the man in charge of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy at the the time Obama signed the bill, told WaPo that the DOJ and DEA did not object to the bill.
A senior official within the DEA told WaPo that the department fought the bill for years, but “was forced to accept a deal it did not want” since they knew Congress would sign the bill with or without their support. He said the DEA’s “point was that this law was completely unnecessary.”
WaPo and 60 Minutes have tried to retrieve documents from this time period:
The DEA and Justice Department have denied or delayed more than a dozen requests filed by The Post and “60 Minutes” under the Freedom of Information Act for public records that might shed additional light on the matter. Some of those requests have been pending for nearly 18 months. The Post is now suing the Justice Department in federal court for some of those records.
West Virginia has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, which is why Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was one of the first to oppose Marino. He is happy with the announcement this morning:
“We need a drug czar who has seen these devastating effects and who is passionate about ending this opioid epidemic. I look forward to working with President Trump to find a drug czar that will serve West Virginians and our entire country, he said in a statement Tuesday. “It’s because of the fine journalists at the Washington Post and 60 Minutes that we have avoided appointing someone who could have made the opioid epidemic even worse. I am eager to make this wrong right and work with my colleagues and the President to repeal this horrible law that should have never passed in the first place.”
Hatch defended his decision (emphasis mine):
Hatch defended his support of the legislation and Marino on Monday, saying in a statement that he “does not believe one flawed report should derail a nominee who has a long history of fighting illegal drug use and of helping individuals with chronic conditions obtain treatment.”
“Let’s not ignore the full story here in the rush toward easy politics,” Hatch added.
This is true. Not many people know this, but I have rheumatoid arthritis. I am one of those individuals with chronic pain, especially in the winter. I also get horrific migraines due to lesions on my brain from my birth. Only opioids can help with that pain.
But due to the addicts those who truly need these medicines to function on a regular basis, these people who far outnumber the addicts, have been punished. We are not addicted to this medicine since it’s an actual need to function properly.DONATE
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