Blogs > Liberty and Power > White House Interference in State Elections

Apr 30, 2004 3:08 am

White House Interference in State Elections

A recent ruling by the General Accounting Office (GAO) will allow the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to spend taxpayer funds to influence the outcome of state ballot initiatives that seek to reform drug policy. Any attempt to lesson the burden brought upon the citizens of this country by the war on people who use certain kinds of drugs will be opposed with those same citizens own money.

However, as journalist Dan Forbes points out in a very enlightening article there is an inherent incongruity, which is being ignored by the decision. He writes that, “Congress needs to square the contradiction between ONDCP's statutory responsibility to advocate a partisan political view – that is, to oppose state drug reform initiatives – versus the prohibition on federal officials using public resources to influence the outcome of an election.”

The use of ONDCP money to oppose state reform measures is, however, entirely consistent with the way that funds designated to control drugs have been spent historically. Harry Anslinger the head of the Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962 devoted almost all of his time and a great deal of currency to convincing people of drug prohibition’s necessity and woe unto anyone who suggested differently.

It is the same today. The House of Representatives has passed legislation reauthorizing the ONDCP until 2008, which includes $195 million per year for ads for the next two years and $210 million per year for the three years after that. They have done this despite the fact that the ads have not been shown effective in decreasing drug use. Forbes reports that a University of Pennsylvania study “has consistently found little evidence that the ads do anything to keep kids off drugs – and may actually increase marijuana initiation among some subgroups of teens.”

If these ads do not reduce drug use then what we have here is a situation where a government agency is spending enormous amounts of money for the sole purpose of convincing the public to allow it to continue to spend enormous amounts of money.

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