Representative Frank Wolfe (R-Va.) is concerned that the Obama Administration is involved in “Nixonian” efforts to pressure government employees following reports that the top official at the Drug Enforcement Agency enacted policy changes after a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder.
According to a report from The Huffington Post last week, Holder met with DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart on the heels of Congressional testimony she gave suggesting that the Obama Administration’s stance on marijuana isn’t consistent with the Nation’s laws.
From the report:
The high-level shift toward easing punishment for drug offenders, backed by public opinion, raises the question of whether any DEA chief who could win the support of rank and file agents would be willing to carry out White House reforms. So far, Leonhart appears uninterested, at best.
She publicly distanced herself from Obama’s remarks about marijuana’s relative harmlessness. She griped about the Justice Department’s failure to try to block marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state. She clings to a comically outdated view of drugs, refusing to acknowledge a difference between pot and crack cocaine. And this week, her agency picked a fight with Kentucky over the state’s purchase of industrial hemp seeds to begin a newly legalized agricultural test.
For now, it’s sentencing reform that raises the biggest questions. Leonhart’s remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month about mandatory minimum sentences caused people in top echelons of the Justice Department to ask whether she was on board with her bosses on sentencing reform, sources familiar with the tensions told The Huffington Post.
The DEA official told lawmakers that the growing acceptance of marijuana has made agents more dedicated to pursuing drug offenders.
“Our agents are fighting back against those messages,” Leonhart said. “Actually, it makes us fight harder.”
Wolfe’s concerns are focused not on marijuana policy, but on whether the Administration is putting political pressure on civil servants in order to force support of the President’s policies.
“Having served in the Nixon Administration, I am well aware of how the political leadership of an administration can try to politicize the civil service, including law enforcement,” Wolfe wrote to the Justice Department. “This article suggests a similar ‘Nixonian’ effort to pressure a career law enforcement leader into changing her congressional testimony and public comments to fit the narrative of the administration. I am deeply concerned and hope you will correct the record if the information reported was inaccurate.”
The lawmaker also defended Leonhart’s career, adding that Congress appreciated her “honest and forthright” testimony.
“It is important that you send a clear signal to Justice Department staff, both political appointees and career civil servants, that public intimidation like this leak will not be tolerated,” Wolf wrote.