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White House Had Drug Officials Appear With GOP Candidates

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House oversight committee, said evidence suggests a White House effort to help GOP candidates.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House oversight committee, said evidence suggests a White House effort to help GOP candidates. (Susan Walsh - AP)

"The information that Representative Waxman's committee posted today did not give any evidence that these anti-drug events were used to urge the election of any candidate," said Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman. "Director John Walters has traveled the country to meet with Democratic and Republican elected officials in communities hit hard by the scourge of drugs."

Stanzel noted that Walters participated in numerous anti-drug meeting with Democratic elected officials earlier in 2006. Among them were March 2006 appearances with then-Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry, and appearances with Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California in May and Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street in July 2006.

But in the three months immediately leading up to the 2006 election, Walters or his deputies held events almost exclusively with GOP officials, many of whom were embroiled in tough reelection campaigns.

Two were held with then- Sen. James M. Talent of Missouri, who was defeated last November. At one of those stops, Walters announced that four Missouri counties had been designated part of a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which brings $500,000 in federal funding to help local law enforcement efforts, Waxman said. It was one of several grant announcements made while drug policy officials were appearing with GOP candidates.

Appearances also were held with Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio in Columbus and with then-Rep. Chris Chocola of Indiana in South Bend. Pryce narrowly won reelection, while Chocola lost in November.

"You included no Democrats or Independents in your memo of suggested travel for director Walters," Waxman said in his letter to Taylor.

The White House and drug policy officials, however, shrugged that off as a consequence of political reality.

"I don't think it is that surprising that during a campaign season when you're talking about events touting White House programs that Republicans are going to be more likely to appear with us than Democrats," said Tom Riley, a spokesman for the drug policy office. "Teen drug use is down. There has been a lot of progress. We're very happy and eager to do events with anyone. But it is more likely that Republicans are going to stand up with White House officials to talk about those successes."

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