Pubdate: Mon, 2 Sep 2002
Source: DrugWar (US Web)
Copyright: 2002 Kalyx com
Author: Daniel Forbes, Special to Drugwar com
Links: The dozens of internal links to this web posted investigative report
are best viewed by clicking on them at the webpage above.
Bookmark: (Forbes, Daniel)



Drug initiative backers with the contumacy to flank a laggard
government by appealing directly to the people are met yet again with a
covert, multi-state gathering of government officials planning partisan
electioneering on the public dime. And, given the presentation by the
Bush Administration's drug policy second-in-command - a job senior
enough to require Senate confirmation - the White House-backed effort
will apparently include government propaganda to sway the vote of those
who pay for it.

That's the unmistakable conclusion drawn from Office of National Drug
Control Policy Deputy Director Mary Ann Solberg's disquisition on the
government's new anti-drug ads. She spoke last Monday (8/26/02) at a
forum at Detroit's Drug Enforcement Administration office to some
fifty-odd sheriffs, judges, prosecutors, DEA agents, state cops, the
drug czar of Michigan and private drug policy professionals, the group
as a whole representing Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, Washington,
D.C. and perhaps even Nevada.

November's election looming, Solberg's discourse came as the Midwest's
political struggle over ballot initiatives mandating treatment rather
than jail for low-level drug possession offenders heats up. The
enormously wealthy trio of Peter Lewis, John Sperling and George Soros
- who've backed reform initiatives throughout the country, primarily
medical marijuana measures out west - has now brought treatment rather
than jail initiatives to the eastern half of the country.

Based loosely on California's Proposition 36, which passed
overwhelmingly in 2000, their effort in Florida has been postponed,
stymied by a balky Florida Supreme Court. Ohioans will vote on their
version, the Ohio Drug Treatment Initiative, come November. And
Michigan backers and opponents sweat out this three-day weekend
awaiting Tuesday's (9/3/02) procedural ruling by the state Board of
Canvassers as to whether Michigan's rather different initiative, the
Michigan Drug Reform Initiative, qualifies for the ballot.

(Watch this space for my Labor Day analysis of the Michigan Board of
Canvassers' decision, including my interview with board member Stephen
Borrello detailing what he's looking for in arguments from both sides
on Tuesday as he decides his vote.)

Doubtless dozens of high-powered state control types, men with
overwhelming jobs - heck, men with guns, some of them, who face down,
or prosecute or judge criminals - didn't travel to Detroit last Monday
to hear, among other topics, some abstract treatise from Solberg for
the heck of it. This gathering was proactive in the extreme. But her
topic makes sense if you meld Solberg's discussion of the White House's
soon-aborning marijuana-scare ads with the DEA meeting's stated goal
that attendees "share their ideas and strategies and possibly combine
resouces in combating drug legalization [sic] proposals."

Given Solberg's talk at "a forum . to discuss the drug legalization
[sic] efforts that are being proposed throughout the United States,
specifically in Michigan", it seems clear that this senior White House
official feels the new ads will contribute to the government's
anti-initiative effort. Otherwise, why waste these topflight folks'
time discussing the ads at meeting geared to "provide insight on
successful strategies to combat legalization," a meeting that promised
to "provide presentations on how the DEA can assist state leaders in
this battle."

The passages quoted above come from a formal invitation printed on
DEA/U.S. Department of Justice letterhead. Date-stamped 8/2/02 and
signed by DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Braun - who runs
federal drug enforcement in Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky - it was sent
to a prominent Michigan initiative opponent, James Halushka, an Oakland
County, Michigan Deputy Prosecutor.

Referring to the ads, meeting participant Judge Brian W. MacKenzie,
District Judge in Michigan's 52nd District, said that a fellow-attendee
asked Solberg about the possibility of the new ad campaign targeting or
emphasizing Michigan and Ohio, but she replied that wasn't possible.
The two states will instead have to settle for their standard share of
the White House ad buy, including the spots that air nationally in
every state.

Judge MacKenzie said Solberg "talked of the federal government's new
initiative with regard to marijuana." He added that she described it as
a new nationwide ad campaign geared to educate the public about pot's
dangers, including the controversial - many would say, discounted -
notion that it serves as a gateway drug to abuse of more pernicious
substances. The ad campaign was pretty much her entire focus, according
to MacKenzie.

Goodness knows the paroxysms that will grace the ads that should debut
in a week or two. Solberg's boss, Drug Czar John P. Walters has been
preparing the ground with his release last Thursday in Miami of a
federal study purporting to show that youthful marijuana use is
associated with adult hard drug use. According to the Associated Press,
Walters said, "Marijuana is not the soft drug."

And just yesterday, in the San Francisco Chronicle, Walters railed
against pot -- which he declared is up to 30-times more powerful than
that of "the Woodstock era" -- as producing, at high doses, "paranoia
or even violence." As to medical marijuana, that is: "smoking an
intoxicating weed," he said the very notion is "medieval. It is, in
fact, absurd."

By selective quotation, he baldly misrepresents the Institute of
Medicine report that Barry McCaffrey commissioned then ignored. He also
cites sky-rocketing adolescent marijuana treatment admissions without
mentioning the percentage of kids admitted against their will, either
at the hands of the criminal justice system or their guardians. There's
much more -- fire-and-brimstone sulfur of the highest order.

Though she's one of the nation's top experts on anti-drug coalitions,
it's curious that Solberg apparently failed to address such topics as
coalition building or drug courts or the need for those present to have
their opposition heard.

In fact, her presentation presents the intriguing conundrum of why the
upcoming marijuana ads were considered on-topic at a meeting
strategizing on "combating drug legalization proposals" - i.e.,
treatment in lieu of incarceration ballot initiatives. In the absence
of any ONDCP response to numerous phone calls, it's useful to note the
White House media campaign's political genesis and intent.

As disclosed in Salon (7/27/00) in, Fighting "Cheech & Chong" Medicine
-- the phrase is Clinton Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey's -- the initial
five-year, White House media campaign was engendered at a meeting
McCaffrey convened in Washington nine days after medical marijuana
initiatives passed in Arizona and California in 1996.

Minutes of the meeting reveal that some forty officials and private
sector executives met to discuss the need for taxpayer-funded messages
to thwart any potential medical marijuana initiatives in the other 48
states and perhaps even roll back the two that had just passed. They
included two policy advisors from the Clinton White House, the head of
the DEA, representatives of the FBI, Departments of Justice, Health and
Human Services, Treasury and Education, along with state law
enforcement personnel. One private participant was quoted in the
meeting's minutes as saying, "We'll work with Arizona and California to
undo it and stop the spread of legalization to [the] other 48 states."

Initiative Backers' Line in the Sand

Hubris or not, Dave Fratello, Legal Affairs Director for the national
Campaign for New Drug Policies which launched the Michigan initiative,
declared CNDP ready to keep the ads from running: "If we have reason to
believe that the government is running PSAs [public service
announcements] designed to thwart the campaign, we'll stop them by
telling station managers that the ads are of a political nature - not a
public service - and are an in-kind contribution to the anti-initiative
political campaign." He warned broadcasters of myriad and expensive
legal entanglements attending such in-kind, political contributions.

Pondering the anti-marijuana ad campaign's likely effect on Michigan
voters should the ballot measure qualify, Kevin Zeese, president of
Common Sense for Drug Policy, said, "No doubt these sorts of ads lay a
foundation of fear that can be used by the initiative's opponents. Ads
that seek to create fear about marijuana lead to the sort of fear and
ignorance that drive the drug laws and work against reform, work for
just sending people to jail."

The ONDCP anti-marijuana ads Solberg touted are part of a second,
five-year ad campaign that July, 2002 press reports indicate Congress
has refunded for $762 million over the next five years.

This despite the fact that, according to a 7/3/02 AP story, Drug Czar
John Walters, "has repeatedly criticized the ad campaign, saying
teenagers were ignoring the ads. In May, he said the office would
cancel the campaign if it was not effective." The AP cited a survey
released in May that "found no evidence the ads were discouraging drug

According to USA Today, (7/8/02) of the $762-million that federal
taxpayers will pony up over the next five years, some $130-million
annually - or approximately $650-million total - will go to purchase
advertising, along with a very small amount for media planning.
($112-million over five years is a heck of a chunk for expenses,
ancillary or otherwise, but no matter.)

Should the next five years mirror the campaign's first five, then, by
design, half the ad budget will go to ad buys targeting adults - that
is voters. And, if past remains prologue, that $650 million is only the
half of it since Congress requires the media to sell its ad time and
space to ONDCP for half-price. That is, broadcasters and publishers,
etc. cough up two ad slots for the price of one.

So, (minus those relatively tiny media planning fees) approximately
$1.3 billion over the next five years will be available for anti-drug
advertising. Half will be directed at adult voters, and all of it will
tend - however indirectly - to poison the drug-reform well.

Along with maintaining the drug-war status quo, the ads also work to
support blanket drug tests at school and work, massive law enforcement
expenditures, the shredding of the Bill of Rights - the whole
delightful interdict-and-incarceration noose around the country's neck.
Alarmist? Well - citizens, attend: Drug Use = Terrorism! as the only
new ads yet released under Walters/Bush, the ones that engendered such
ridicule and disgust, would have voters believe.

Rather implausibly, President Clinton's then deputy press secretary
Jake Siewert, informed me back in 2000 that, "The ONDCP is prohibited
from involving itself in political causes in its advertising." Talk is

Parsing Clues on Participants

Though the DEA raised the moat, it is possible to glean some notion of
the meeting's participants. Braun's invitation promised "state leaders
from Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio at this forum."

Oakland County Deputy Prosecutor James Halushka confirmed his
participation along with that of various law enforcement personnel, the
DEA's public affairs and congressional liaison director, Christopher
Battle, and by "some CADCA people too, a couple of representatives from
Lansing and Battle Creek who continue to spread the word." CADCA refers
to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, whose board Solberg
graced prior to joining ONDCP.

(In December, 2001, Bush announced re-authorization of a Department of
Justice program that will distribute $450-million over the next five
years to community anti-drug groups. Approximately one-fifth of that
money is available for what is termed voter education.)

MacKenzie, who attended only part of the morning session of what he
termed a 9-to-3 meeting, was particularly interested in the
presentation by Judge Harvey Hoffman, the president of a Michigan drug
court advocacy group, the Michigan Association of Drug Court
Professionals. He said Hoffman discussed the impact of California's
Prop. 36.

MacKenzie also noted the presence of Oakland County Sheriff Michael
Bouchard, a co-chair of the Committee to Protect Our Kids, a
"registered ballot question committee formed to oppose" the treatment
initiative, according to an 8/9/02 letter sent to Christopher Thomas,
director of the Michigan state Bureau of Elections, by the committee's
counsel, the powerhouse Michigan law firm of Dykema Gossett.

(This letter, according to Board of Canvassers member Stephen Borrello,
contributed greatly to the board postponing for a week its decision
regarding the initiative. See my article tomorrow in this
space on the postponement, including the influence wielded by Dykema
Gossett partner and head of its Government Policy & Practice Group,
Richard McLellan. A hand-in-glove ally of rabid initiative foe,
Michigan Gov. John Engler - in 1990 he served as director of the
governor-elect's transition team - McLellan has also chaired a
committee helping Engler and President George W. Bush pick federal
appeals court judges. He's served as Michigan's drug czar and as an
advisor to President Gerald Ford. According to a filing with the
Michigan secretary of state, the committee's treasurer is Richard M.
Gabrys, an executive with the accounting and consulting firm, Deloitte
& Touche. He and McLellan both refused comment.)

Referring to this committee and to initiative opponents in general,
Halushka said they hope to mount a "massive public education campaign .
to expose [proponents'] myths in a sound-bite world." Though decrying
the impossibility of matching the rich backers' potential ad budget, he
added, "We are raising money, going [nationally] to big-name donors."

Additional meeting participants, said MacKenzie, included members of
the state police; one or more representatives of Detroit anti-drug
coalitions; both a "police commander" and a prosecutor from Ohio; as
well as someone from Kentucky. Altogether, he estimated there were
"fifty or sixty people in a big conference room."

Additional clues regarding attendance come from the fact that prior to
the meeting, the office of Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), ranking minority
member of the House Judiciary Committee, obtained a copy of Braun's
invitation, according to Deanna Maher, a special projects coordinator
on Conyers' staff. Wearing two hats, Maher works part-time for Conyers
and part-time for the initiative's sponsor, the Michigan Campaign for
New Drug Policies, CNDP's state affiliate. CNDP's Fratello stated that
Maher segregates her time religiously - a common practice, he said, of
congressional staffers with outside political pursuits.

The letter at hand, the week before the meeting Maher called both Braun
and DEA Special Agent Rich Isaacson (whose name and number were also on
the invite) to inquire whether the lack of an invitation to Conyers'
office was inadvertent. After all, a Conyers staffer's participation
would be fueled by propinquity, the two offices across the street from
each other in downtown Detroit.

The DEA agent responsible for demand reduction throughout Michigan,
Ohio and Kentucky (or so he told me last winter), Isaacson extended an
invitation, which Maher declined. While doing so, he told her that
Craig Yaldoo, the Director of Michigan's Office of Drug Control Policy,
four judges, representatives from the anti-initiative Committee to
Protect Our Kids and "regional" officials would be among those
assembling the following Monday.

Taxpayers Bought Rusche's Flight?

A main speaker was Sue Rusche, executive director of Atlanta-based
National Families in Action, who fired up the troops with visions of
the perfidy they face. Describing her as "a nationally recognized
expert on the history of the drug legalization effort in the United
States," Braun promised Rusche's "insight[s] on successful strategies
to combat legalization." Rusche's website is indeed a comprehensive
distillation of reformers' either stark truth-telling or public faux
pas - depending on your point of view.

It's worth noting that, according to Philanthropic Research, Inc.,
Rusche's organization had total 1999 revenues of $487,376; of this, a
whopping $429,503 was from the government. Figures for the prior two
years are similar: 1998 total revenue, $542,762, of which $490,913 was
from the government. In 1997, the total was $507,291; the government's
portion, $451,123.

Describing Rusche as the "keynote" speaker, Halushka said, "She
basically talked of the arguments that needed to be made, talked of the
myths and the [proponents'] true agenda. She proved it with a
statistic-filled" presentation.

(The portion of Rushche's talk on opponents' successful strategies, at
least regarding CNDP, might have been brief. Thirteen of its 14
campaigns have passed, not including the postponed effort stymied by a
recalcitrant Florida Supreme Court. In Massachusetts, CNDP reached for
the moon and crashed on the launching pad.)

Braun also promised potential attendees that, "DEA's Demand Reduction
and Congressional and Public Affairs Sections will provide
presentations on how the DEA can assist state leaders in this battle."

Braun's last reference was presumably to Christopher Battle, who runs
the DEA's PR and congressional affairs out of Washington. Halushka said
Battle attended and "talked of the need for a grassroots [effort], of
working with community groups." Thus, according to Halushka, this top
agency official sent the gathering forth to proselytize to the public.
He also said the meeting focused, in part, "in terms of getting the
word out."

(To that end, Halushka said that he, Judge MacKenzie and a county
sheriff recently visited the editorial board of a local paper to voice
their opposition. He's also given "some speeches during the day to
community coalitions and prevention groups." But, he said, "That's part
of my job: public education regarding public safety." It seems voters
may be endangered should they flip the wrong lever come November.)

Finally, to finish this discussion of the roster of attendees, a single
source not mentioned elsewhere in this article stated his or her belief
that the following individuals or groups attended: Yaldoo (as Isaacson
told Maher) and various Michigan state police and Michigan sheriffs and
prosecutors. Sheriff Bouchard and Deputy Prosecutor Halushka confirmed
their attendance, and Judge MacKenzie confirmed the state police's

Therefore, this source's knowledge of the attendees listed in the
previous paragraph was corroborated. Consider then his or her following
two claims in that light.

This individual asserted that Charles List, a coordinator for the
Committee to Protect Our Kids, also attended. Prior to my hearing this,
List spoke to me briefly, but directed all inquiries to Sheriff
Bouchard and to Saginaw County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Thomas, who
List declared the committee's co-chairs. Thomas refused to be
interviewed. Bouchard attended the meeting briefly and spoke to me only
in general terms.

Most tellingly, this individual also asserted that an anti-initiative
representative from the state of Nevada attended. The presence of a
fellow-strategizer from Nevada has not been confirmed at press time as
at least half-a-dozen calls to Braun and DEA public affairs chief
Battle were not returned.

Of course, an adult-use, marijuana legalization initiative recently
qualified for the Nevada ballot; current polls indicate a tight race.
Initiative opponents there may well feel the need to, as Braun's invite
encouraged, share ideas, strategies and perhaps resources to combat
initiatives. If someone from Nevada was indeed present, his or her
anti-initiative colleagues back home would welcome his or her summary
of the "presentations on how the DEA can assist state leaders in this

Everyone gathered knowing they face an uphill climb should the Michigan
Board of Canvassers not toss the initiative tomorrow, Tuesday. The Wall
Street Journal has cited an April, 2001 Pew Research Center for People
and the Press study that "found that a 52%-to-35% majority of adults
believe drug use should be treated as a `disease,' not a crime."

And Dave Fratello points to an August, 2001 Buckeye State poll
indicating that 74% of Ohioans favored treatment rather than prison for
low-level offenders. He's told me previously that that exceeds
California's approval rating at a comparable time in its Prop. 36
campaign, indicating, he felt, that "voter attitudes on drugs are
massively in flux."

DEA a Slice; IPS Report the Whole Pie

I myself was lucky enough to dissect the overall scheme being
propagated by senior federal, state and local officials to covertly
usurp the voters' franchise in a report published this May by the
venerable D.C. think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies. Entitled,
The Governor's Sub-rosa Plot to Subvert an Election in Ohio, it can be
found at This DEA meeting
is but the latest manifestation to surface of a multi-state effort that
dates to July, 2001.

The product of five-months' work, the IPS report focuses on the
anti-initiative efforts of Gov. Bob Taft (R-OH), his wife, Hope Taft,
and the highest reaches of his administration. Their close allies
include Solberg; Yaldoo; James McDonough, the drug czar of Florida;
Betty Sembler, the wife of the former finance chair of the Republican
National Committee and current US Ambassador to Italy; a senior U.S.
Senate staffer (who hosted an anti-initiative strategy session in the
U.S. Capitol itself - yes, the one with the dome) and the supposedly
apolitical Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Detroit's own Rep. John Conyers was responsible for disseminating news
of last week's DEA confab. Obtaining Braun's invitation the week before
the strategy session, Conyers followed with a letter 8/22/02 to DEA
Director Asa Hutchinson demanding an investigation and a press release
on Friday, 8/23/02.

Conyers' letter and subsequent release call on Hutchinson to
investigate the DEA's "possible misuse of federal funds without proper
authorization by Congress and in contravention of existing law."
Conyers stated: "It appears that the DEA has been actively engaged
across the country in collaboration with groups who are opposed to
ballot proposals involving reform of our drug laws."

Referring to political campaigning "on federal property and on
government time," Conyers charged that the meeting undoubtedly violates
a 2001 federal law "which clearly states that no part of any
appropriation for DEA can be used for `publicity or propaganda
purposes' not authorized by Congress." He wondered whether the upcoming
meeting would run "afoul of federal laws prohibiting unauthorized
lobbying activities by federal agencies."

Government Integrity Besmirched, Conyers Charges

Conyers castigated the judges who participated in violation of their
Canon of Ethics and implied that the DEA's activities have compromised
"the integrity of our national government."

Referencing Braun's "invitation to a forum `to discuss drug
legalization efforts,' " Conyers concluded, "I am concerned that this
meeting, with its specific purpose of devising a lobbying and public
campaign against Michigan drug reform proposals, is . an unauthorized
use of funds."

One question Conyers will want answered is who paid for all these
people to make their way to Detroit? Someone from Kentucky was there,
along with at least two from Ohio, according to Judge MacKenzie.
Private citizen Sue Rusche came up from Georgia. Having voiced nothing
but her intention to hang up, she did so as I blurted a question on
whether the DEA had paid for her trip.

Then there's the question, as Conyers pointed out, of all these
government officials taking this time while on the clock, ostensibly
serving the public in non-partisan fashion. It's a stretch beyond
tearing to think they all took personal days and traveled at their own
expense. As discussed below, the DEA's Rich Isaacson said his overnight
lodging was paid for by the taxpayers of Ohio, his time and travel by
federal taxpayers when he attended a similar anti-initiative meeting at
the Governor of Ohio's mansion last October.

MacKenzie said that one notable Detroit participant was a DEA lawyer
who discussed Conyers' advance criticism of the meeting. He said the
lawyer discussed at some length how "it was not a violation." 

Pointing to the Solberg-initiated efforts of his boss, David Gorcyca,
himself and Solberg herself in Oakland County, Halushka also spoke of
getting "Craig [Yaldoo] organized to get the state organized." He
added, "Craig is working more on a statewide level." Aiding that
effort, Gorcyca enlisted the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of
Michigan to get all 83 counties involved. One wonders if Yaldoo and
Gorcyca's outreach to their professional colleagues occurs entirely
during off-hours.

Curiously, the same day Conyers publicly blasted the DEA (8/23/02), its
response was to send Detroit-area Democratic Rep. Carolyn Cheeks
Kilpatrick an anti-initiative ten-point talking-point memo that
Halushka told me he helped write. While the memo does artfully and
often disingenuously critique the initiative, it's hard to see it
absolving or even addressing the issues raised by partisan
electioneering by dozens of officials at a federal office in Detroit.

According to Conyers' staffer, Deanna Maher, Rep. Kilpatrick received a
call the Friday before the Monday meeting from Asa Hutchinson
denouncing the initiative. He then faxed her Halushka's effort: "10
Reasons that `The Michigan Drug Reform Initiative' is BAD FOR
MICHIGAN." [Upper case and bold in original.]

(The memo's second point stands out as particularly misguided: "It
effectively legalizes use of all dangerous drugs, including cocaine,
ecstasy and heroin, for anyone who merely states that they seek
treatment, regardless of whether they even attend treatment sessions.")

Maher adds that Kilpatrick herself dropped by Conyers' Detroit office
the day of the meeting to question whether Halushka's memo accurately
represents the initiative. Said Maher, "Rep. Kilpatrick expressed her
concern regarding the DEA's activities and her support for Rep.
Conyers' inquiry."

Hutchinson himself has not shrunk from the fray. A DEA release noted
his address last October to an Ohio drug court graduation ceremony. He
thanked the defendants for their success and "for the example you've
set." And he warned of "a growing challenge to drug courts" - in this
case, the Ohio ballot initiative. The measure lacks accountability,
Hutchinson asserted, and was thus "a program that is doomed to
failure." Then in May, 2002, Hutchinson blasted the Ohio initiative in
an op-ed published by The Columbus Dispatch.

Solberg the Master

Aside from her dangling the promise of new anti-marijuana advertising,
there's more to be said of ONDCP Deputy Director Mary Ann Solberg.
Asked the genesis of the Committee To Protect our Kids, Halushka said,
"The godmother is Mary Ann Solberg." Replying to a question, he added,
"The spark came from Mary Ann - no question." That spark flared months
after President Bush publicly nominated her in July, 2001.

Halushka noted that Solberg enlisted prosecutors in Detroit, Oakland
and McComb counties to fight the threat in 2000 of a stillborn medical
marijuana initiative. Then, in November and December of 2001- months
after her nomination- Halushka said Solberg "alerted" him and "wanted
to galvanize people" regarding the threat of the new treatment
initiative. Consequently, he examined its "frightening" language and
"brought it to my boss," David Gorcyca, Oakland County Prosecuting

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard then signed on, said Halushka,
and Halushka's own January address to the Troy coalition Solberg had
run "started the ball rolling." Halushka added, "We've been proactive
in Oakland County.. David Gorcyca, myself and Solberg have worked in
Oakland." Though it's certainly more racially integrated than it once
was, Oakland can perhaps be fairly described as the white-flight county
north of Detroit.

As to Solberg's current involvement, Halushka said, "She has continued
to be of help - she has continued to help with connections to people
and data. She does come to town. She was in town Monday [8/26/02] at
DEA headquarters in Detroit." Speaking of the initiative in general, he
reiterated: "She was responsible for alerting us."

Informed of Solberg's participation in the meeting (initially disclosed
here, I believe), initiative campaigner Dave Fratello stated: "I always
knew Mary Ann Solberg would take the White House too far. She's a
zealot, hired to be on the far right on the drug-abuse issue. She's not
cautious and she's not being restrained. I always thought her zeal
would get the better of her, and now she's taken the White House over a

Asked how, Fratello said, "The voters of Michigan will not take kindly
to the White House telling them how to vote. Barry McCaffrey learned
that lesson in California in1996 when there was a palpable backlash
against his heavy-handed intervention against medical marijuana."

Referring to the initiatives' active opponents sprinkled throughout the
highest levels of Michigan and Ohio officialdom, reformer Kevin Zeese
added, "They fear these millionaires and activists who are getting
their message out. What's more, despite hundreds of millions of dollars
worth of government-paid ads, they can't figure out how to get their
own message out."

If Zeese is correct, that failure certainly cannot be laid at Solberg's
feet. As discussed in my Institute for Policy Studies report, upon her
July, 2001 nomination Solberg received a congratulatory e-mail from
Ohio First Lady Hope Taft. Referring to the Ohio and Michigan
initiatives, Taft wrote, "We are interested in sharing info and ideas
with both states and wondered who in Michigan will be in charge. Could
you let me know what you know or think?"

Taft assumed as a matter of course that someone in Michigan would be in
charge of opposing the ballot measure.

Solberg to Ohio's First Lady: TV Is Key

In her reply, Solberg immediately referred - not to some private
individual more suited to run a political campaign - but to Michigan's
new drug czar, Craig Yaldoo. She wrote: "I met with Craig last week,
and he is very interested in taking up the fight and appears to be on
top of the Soros people and their movements in Michigan. I suggested he
form a partnership with you to fight the prop[osition].

Quite telling in a quite brief e-mail, Solberg then told Taft: "It
would be very effective if we could pool resources to produce TV spots.
I have some funding commitments, and I believe we could raise even more
as a team. I would love to meet with an Ohio/Michigan team before I
leave Troy [MI] to begin planning."

Solberg was not referring at that point to the combined $1.3-billion
worth of ads over the next five years that, between them, taxpayers
will buy and the media be bludgeoned into giving. Nonetheless, note her
immediate emphasis on TV ads and the money to air them in what she told
Taft would be "a very hard fight."

My IPS report also detailed a skull session similar to the DEA meeting,
a "Multi-State Drug Policy Forum" held at the Tafts' official residence
in Columbus, 10/12/01. Solberg, Isaacson, Yaldoo and Florida drug czar
James McDonough all attended. The state of Ohio offered to pay for
meals and lodging for out-of-state attendees and did in fact pay $2,000
to a local "meeting facilitator." As mentioned, Isaacson's lodging was
paid for by the taxpayers of Ohio, his time and travel by federal

Writing the IPS report many months ago, I questioned DEA spokesperson
Thomas Hinojosa about the potential impropriety of Isaacson's
government-paid trip. Back when the DEA actually responded to press
inquiries, Hinojosa told me, "[Isaacson's] job is drug investigations
and stopping the flow of narcotics." Asked how attending a strategy
session on defeating initiatives fit that brief, Hinojosa said, "That
initiative deals with illegal drugs, which come under the Controlled
Substances Act. So there's nothing wrong with that."

Last winter, Isaacson told me the Ohio meeting in October was "merely
to determine what is happening in these states regarding possible
legalization efforts." Evaluate his statement in light of the numerous
political tactics participants agreed were necessary in a five-page
"Outcomes" memo summarizing the day's conclusions.

It features such overt exhortations as: "Have a seamless, collaborative
effort of organizations involved, mobilized and working hard to oppose
the Initiative." To quote a second, one of many outcomes: "Beat the
Initiative back in the entire country, not just in each state." At
meeting's end, the Ohio, Michigan and Florida officials present that
day in October, 2001 pledged to work together and stay in touch through
e-mail, conference calls and possible future meetings.

Despite all that - and this is the sketchiest of summaries of the IPS
material - Isaacson told me months ago that this Governor's mansion
meeting was for informational purposes.

Public Billions Fuel Private Juggernaut, Yet Voters Sneer

Solberg's activities in Michigan prior to her April, 2002 Senate
confirmation shed light on the state and federally funded private
apparatus that defends the drug-war status quo, as my IPS report makes

Her base was the Troy Community Coalition for the Prevention of Drug
and Alcohol Abuse, which, according to the U.S. Department of Justice,
was formed with federal money in 1991. (Philanthropic Research, Inc.
notes that for the FY ending in June, 1999, the Troy coalition had
total revenues of $254,000, with government grants providing $163,000.)

The next calendar year, in September, 2000, it received a $100,000
Dept. of Justice grant, the money to be spent in part for the group to
act, according to the DOJ, "as a catalyst for collaboration among all
segments of the community, thereby building . awareness that will lead
to an increase in the perception of the health risks involved [with
drugs] and growing social disapproval within the community." [Emphasis
added.] Not incidentally, the DOJ requires that grantees include "at
least one" media representative.

The year before, the Coalition of Healthy Communities (CHC), an
umbrella group for seven community coalitions located north of Detroit
that Solberg also directed, received $99,209 in DOJ money. According to
the DOJ website, CHC used some of the $99,209 to "implement a public
awareness campaign." Referring to this social marketing, Mary Louise
Embrey of the DOJ Office of Congressional and Public Affairs told me
last winter, "The way they were going about it is multi-faceted:
They've hooked in with the Ad Council and the national ONDCP anti-drug
media campaign - they use print materials from ONDCP. And they used the
local media to make connections. They have people [appear] on the local
news or they feed them different stories."

My work in Salon proved that the White House used taxpayer funds to
reward broadcasters and publishers who inserted government-approved
anti-drug content. But according to Embrey of the DOJ, public funds
were also used to help local coalitions propagandize citizens through
local media north of Detroit.

(See the IPS report for full proof of the Partnership for a Drug-Free
America's manifest willingness to create ads to try to influence the
Ohio election. The partnership inaugurated its effort by sending its
four top executives to that July, 2001 planning session hosted by a
U.S. Senate staffer and held in the U.S. Capitol - what one of them
termed a "counter-legalization brainstorm session.")

As to the Ad Council's role, according to a 8/12/02 ONDCP release, it
will team with the Ad Council to "launch new ads next month to promote
awareness of - and involvement with - community drug-prevention
coalitions.." This new campaign - separate from the ONDCP
anti-marijuana ads - will feature, says the White House, a Web site and
toll-free number and "TV, radio, print, outdoor and Web banner ads"
designed to help people "get involved with or start a coalition and
locate a coalition in their community." From 2000-to-2001, this
"campaign has received more than $120-million in donated [sic] media
support through the Ad Council's media outreach and ONDCP's"
fifty-cents-on-the-dollar deals with the media. Prior to her ONDCP
deputy directorship, Solberg helped advise the Ad Council's Community
Anti-Drug Campaign.

Local anti-drug coalitions receive government funding nationwide. One
Dept. of Justice program, authorized at $144-million for its first five
years, was reauthorized this past December for another five years for a
staggering $450-million. (Approximately two-thirds of the first
$144-million's 464 total grants went to CADCA member coalitions; the
rest went to other local groups.)

Since ONDCP ultimately decides where these Justice Dept. grants end up,
depending on John Walters' degree of micro-management, Solberg may have
more say than anyone in the country as to this $450-million's ultimate
destination and purpose.

Twenty Percent for Voter 'Education'

But what possible objection could there be to using this money for
community-based prevention and treatment?

Consider that this past January, CADCA spokeswoman Betsy Glick told The
Detroit Free Press, "Under federal law, the nonprofit coalitions
generally can spend up to 20 percent of their budgets `to educate
voters.' " According to the article: "Solberg said she is determined to
see more coalitions spawned and strengthened. And . she is expected to
help them play a key role in opposing any easing of drug laws" - i.e.,
any initiatives. The paper added, quoting one of Solberg's Michigan
coalition colleagues: "Behind the scenes, Solberg is `spearheading the
campaign against this initiative.' "

With last December's huge reauthorization, 20% of $450 million - that
is, up to $90-million - will be available over the next five years for
publicly funded voter education to try to influence elections, whether
on a state initiative, or just a contest for county sheriff between a
hard-liner and a reformer.

As to any `spawning,' on September 9th, Solberg will address the annual
Michigan Substance Abuse Conference, speaking on "Successful Strategies
for Coalition Building." Sponsored by state and federal health
agencies, the sold-out, two-day seminar offers professional continuing
education credits, and attendees' expenses are tax-deductible.

Solberg's a self-acknowledged pro at publicly funded electioneering. In
2000, after that medical marijuana measure failed to gain the Michigan
ballot as she ran numerous coalitions north of Detroit, Solberg told
the Detroit News, "A good offense is the best defense." The article
noted that in May that year, as part of that offense, one of her
coalitions had "hosted a two-day conference in Lansing about the perils
of pot." It added that the seminar was controversial since the
coalition receives state, county and federal grants. Both Michigan's
drug czar and the head of its state police participated, as did, for
some reason, Northwest Airlines.

According to DRCNet, the conference was entitled, "Training the
Trainers: Putting the Brakes on the Drug Legalization Movement." DRCNet
cited Greg Schmid's charge that Michigan promised state criminal
justice training funds to facilitate police attendance at the meeting.
A main backer of the Personal Responsibility Amendment (as it was
known), Schmid told DRCNet, "It looks like a public fund is being used
for electioneering training of law enforcement personnel." A Saginaw
lone-wolf at Schmid Law Office, he told me his formal complaint to the
State Bureau of Elections was referred to the state Attorney General,
who dismissed it.

So, no doubt the poll-beleaguered local officials in Detroit welcomed
the presence of the ex-school teacher who's now found her way to the
White House. Keith Stroup, head of the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws, said, "Her presence gives enormous
empowerment to the local partisans - to know that the federal
government, the White House in particular, is supporting their efforts.
Sitting in Detroit, when the White House shows up, it may not be
illegal, but it sure as hell is improper."

Numerous phone calls to ONDCP and the DEA, including to ONDCP PR chief
Tom Reilly and to DEA Special Agents Battle and Braun were not
returned. Reaching Solberg's personal voice-mail, I outlined my
understanding of her Detroit discourse on the new ads, hoping to prompt
a response. Without much of a leg to stand on, the White House and the
DEA refused to teeter on the precipice of actually discussing their
active opposition to state ballot measures - Bush administration
rhetoric about devolution of power to the states be blowed.


Daniel Forbes  writes on social policy. His recent
report on state and federal political malfeasance geared to defeat
treatment rather than incarceration ballot initiatives was published by
the Institute for Policy Studies. Much of his work, including his
series in Salon that led to his testimony before both the Senate and
the House, is archived at
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake