9 Politicians Busted for Drugs (Even Staunch Drug War Supporters)
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Nikita Starichenko
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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has recently found himself struggling to shake off reports that he featured in a home video smoking from a crack pipe, but he’s far from alone. From the rural South to major US cities and beyond, countless lawmakers—even those who have happily backed draconian drug policies—have landed in legal and political trouble for drug-related reasons. Here are 10 varied and mostly recent examples.
1. Willie Gandara Jr., Texas County Commisioner - Just months after Gandara declared that drug legalization was bad for America, a possible ulterior motive emerged: profit. He was arrested in February 2012 on federal drug trafficking charges. DEA spokesman Diana Apodaca confirmed that the arrest was part of a multi-agency investigation involving the IRS and the FBI. Back in September 2011, Gandara had said he couldn’t possibly back former El Paso Rep. Beto O’Rourke in his congressional bid because O’Rourke had advocated legalizing marijuana to take money away from Mexican cartels. “Legalizing drugs is the coward practice of combating cartels,” said Gandara. “It is an insult to our men and women in law enforcement, and the laziest form of parenting our children and youth about the effects of drugs.” He was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in November 2012.
2. Steve Katz, New York Assemblyman - Talk about practicing what you preach against: Despite voting against the legalization of medical marijuana last year, Katz was arrested for pot possession in March. The Republican was pulled over for speeding by a state trooper, who smelled marijuana in Katz’s car. Katz was obliged to turn over a small bag of weed. He called the arrest “an unfortunate incident,” but declared that he would not let it “impede my public service and my calls for real mandate relief, a better economic climate and better services for those in need in New York.” He’d previously been arrested for a DUI back in 2000. His challenger in the Republican primary, Dario Gristina, called for him to step down: "This is not the behavior you would expect from an elected official,” she said, “especially from a conservative county like ours. We have enough kids abusing drugs, and the last thing we need is for our elected representative being caught handing marijuana over to a police officer."
3. Ted Vick, South Carolina State Representative - The Democratic former candidate for Congress was arrested in May, after being spotted “staggering side to side” and “struggling to maintain his balance” around the House of Representatives parking garage, before trying to drive away. A nearby cop witnessed the lawmaker “having trouble driving a straight line” and running over a flex cone. Vick refused a breathalyzer, although the officer noted “a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” on his breath. The politician maintains he’d only had two glasses of wine and that his swerving was actually caused by “a rock” in his shoe. The married father of two was also arrested for DUI and unlawful possession of a gun back in May 2012; there was a 21-year-old college girl in the passenger seat that time. “Ted Vick needs to seek help for what seems to be a very major problem,” said Alex Stroman, director of the South Carolina GOP. “He should resign his seat so he can finally get the help that he so clearly needs.”
4. Mike Crapo, Idaho Senator - Despite identifying as a Mormon, fighting a war against meth in his state and publicly declaring himself teetotal, Crapo was arrested for DUI in Arlington, Virginia last December. After he was brought to jail, his blood alcohol was recorded at 0.14—nearly double the legal limit of 0.08. He later told CBS that after drinking vodka with tonic water, he took a drive to “try and wind down” and was pulled over by police on his way home. He also acknowledged having “on occasion having alcoholic drinks in my apartment” and apologized to his family, his constituents and his fellow Mormons for his “poor choice.” After pleading guilty to DUI, he was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all of them suspended. He also paid $250 in fines and court fees, had his driver’s license suspended for 12 months and was required to take a DUI course.