President Trump issued a statement on Monday regarding the controversy surrounding his drug czar nominee. The White House is expected to name Rep. Tom Marino, from Pennsylvania, as the new Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Marino has a history of being pro-pharma and anti-cannabis.
In fact, it was reported that he championed a law that allowed the opioid crisis to escalate. In an unexpected turn of events, Trump says he will be looking into the reports and is taking it “very seriously.”
Tom Marino and Big Pharma
Tom Marino and a handful of other members of Congress teamed up with shady drug distributors to create legislation that would make it easier to distribute prescription painkillers. Furthermore, the new laws prevented the DEA from taking action against pharmaceutical companies. That made it easy for major drug distribution companies to supply corrupt doctors and pharmacists, who then sold the narcotics to the black market.
According to data from the International Business Times, Marino has taken more money from the pharmaceutical industry than any other sector.
Tom Marino: Your Shady Dealer’s Best Friend
This weekend, the Washington Post and CBS’s 60 Minutes reported on the 2016 law and Marino’s involvement with its implementation. He was the chief advocate of the law that the DEA had spent years opposing. The law passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) negotiated a final version with the DEA. Orrin received nearly twice as much from the pharmaceutical companies as Marino.
For years, drug companies were being fined by the DEA for neglecting to stop the suspicious sales of hundreds of millions of pills. However, the new law makes it nearly impossible for the DEA to freeze the shipments of any suspicious narcotics from within the industry.
On top of drafting a law that made it harder for the DEA to stop the opioid crisis, Marino was ca`ught “judge-shopping” for a cocaine-dealing buddy.
So, our future drug czar has a history of letting drug distributors fly. Hopefully, Trump is still shopping for a drug czar nominee, cause it looks like we might need one.
Despite the claims being made against Marino, Trump only had praise for him.
“He’s a good man and I have not spoken to him but I will speak to him to make that determination,” Trump said at a joint press conference on Monday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We are gonna look into the report, and we are gonna take it very seriously.”
Congressmen Demand White House Withdraw Nomination
After seeing the Washington Post/60 Minutes investigation, several Senate Democrats are demanding Marino’s nomination be withdrawn.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said on Monday that she will be introducing legislation that will repeal the law Marino helped put into place. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is another fighting to have the drug czar nominee withdrawn.
Manchin said he was “horrified” by what he learned from the report and that the president no longer has his “trust or that of the public,” when it comes to tackling the opioid crisis.
“During the biggest public health crisis since HIV/AIDS, we need someone leading the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy who believes we must protect our people, not the pharmaceutical industry,” Manchin said in a statement.