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Drug czar sent to prop up N.Cal. Republicans?

The White House apparently sent drug czar John Walters and his deputy out on the Congressional campaign trail last year on the taxpayers’ dime to benefit embattled Republicans including former Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Rep. John Doolittle, R-Granite Bay, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman claimed today.

Waxman, D-Los Angeles, released documents including former White House Political Affairs Director Sara Taylor’s Nov. 20, 2006 memo which recapped all the “suggested participation” events Walters or his deputies had attended earlier in the year. Among them were April 11 and 12 community roundtables that Walters and Doolittle held in Nevada City and Oroville, respectively, and a May 8 “meth roundtable” Deputy Director Scott Burns held with Pombo in Stockton.

Waxman wrote a letter to Taylor today requesting that she testify before his committee Monday, July 30 about the apparent politicization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

The list of Republican officials named in your memo reads like a roster of the most vulnerable Republican members of Congress seeking reelection in 2006. Your memo identifies 29 events with 26 Republican office-holders. Assessments by political analyst Chartie Cook in October and November 2006 considered the re-election races of 23 of the 26 candidates identified in your memo as “competitive;” 15 of the races were listed as “toss-ups.” Your list included eleven Republican candidates who lost, ten who won their races with less than 53% of the vote, and two who won by fewer than 1100 votes. You included no Democrats or Independents in your memo of suggested travel by the ONDCP Director.

There’s also a post-election e-mail memo from Douglas Simon — the ONDCP’s White House liaison — to other staffers relating White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser Karl Rove’s “thank you for all of the work that went into the surrogate appearances by Cabinet members… He specifically thanked, for going above and beyond the call of duty, the Dept. of Commerce, Transportation, Agriculture, AND the WH Drug Policy Office. This recognition is not something we hear everyday and we should feel confident that our hard work is noticed.”

See other documents released today here. Pombo, of course, was unseated by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; Doolittle fended off Democratic challenger Charlie Brown, who now is hard at work raising funds and building support for another run at Doolittle in 2008.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.