Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), profiled by The Washington Post this week as a pro-pot lawmaker with his eye on a leadership slot, blasted the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration as “terrible” during a heated floor exchange over the agency’s budget.
Polis was offering an amendment to an appropriations bill that would strip an additional $35 million from the DEA allocated for “pay and nonbase pay costs.” He argued that while other agencies are facing cuts, the DEA was undeserving of additional funds.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) rushed to Administrator Michele Leonhart’s defense, condemning Polis for questioning her service and accusing him of undercutting the work of DEA agents.
“(Leonhart) has given her life to law enforcement for the last 30 years, so I don’t think you meant it, but if I were a DEA agent back in some remote area, maybe watching C-SPAN in Afghanistan where there’s a number of DEA agents risking their lives, when we’re in a very safe community surrounded by policemen — but maybe they’re in Kabul right now where there was just some killings the other day,” Wolf said.
“She may have been a fine line officer and cop on the beat but she’s a terrible agency head,” Polis said.
Wolf, noting that he served in the Nixon administration, then charged Polis and the Obama administration with acting Nixonian for going after a career civil servant within their own ranks.
Polis and Leonhart have clashed over her hardline opposition to marijuana. At a hearing in June 2012, she refused to answer Polis when he asked her whether she thought heroin and crack were worse for a person’s health than pot. She would only say that all illegal drugs are bad. She further incensed Polis when she reportedly said that July 4, 2013, was the worst day of her life because an American flag made from Colorado-raised hemp flew over the Capitol.
Chatting with the Loop after his floor exchange with Wolf, Polis did not back down.
“It bothers me greatly that she doesn’t know the basic facts, or fails to let herself know the basic facts about areas under her jurisdiction,” Polis said.
And as to Wolf’s ardent defense of her? “Maybe she should go back to Baltimore and keep the streets safe there,” Polis said.