For a Guy Who Plays a Tough-as-Nails-Legal Guy on Law & Order, Fred Thompson is Pretty Soft on Drug Kingpins-Campaign Advisers with Private Jets


The latest news from the mummified Fred Thompson campaign: It turns out his pal and supporter, Alabama developer Philip J. Martin was busted for selling 11 pounds of weed back in 1979.

Martin has a jet that Thompson uses to, well, jet around in while on the campaign trail. Fred is ready to stand by his man, assuming it doesn't cost him much:

"I know Phil is a good man," Thompson said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "He is my friend. He is going to remain my friend."

In 1979, Martin pleaded guilty to the sale of 11 pounds of marijuana, the Washington Post reported Sunday. In 1983, the newspaper said, he pleaded no contest to charges of cocaine trafficking and conspiracy stemming from a plan to sell $30,000 worth of the drug….

"I'm not going to throw my friend under the bus for something he did, you know, 25 years ago if he's OK now," Thompson said. "On the other hand, I'm running for president. I've got, you know, to do the right thing, you know, and problems occur, and I'll just have to figure it out."

Now that's leadership for you!

More info from LA Times here.

Needless to say, I think selling pot should be legal. And I don't doubt that Martin has paid his debt to society (whatever that means, especially if your crime was selling pot); certainly it sounds like he pays a lot in taxes, which as we all know are the price we pay for civilization yadda yadda yadda. But I really just can't stand the sanctimony regarding past pot behavior and the way it wafts back into consicousness in a political context without ever changing things very much.

Perhaps the hypocrisy of politicians regarding the pot issue (among many others, drug- and not drug-related) will eventually prove overwhelming to voters. I don't know. But here's a snippet from a 1999 Rolling Stone article detailing some sweetheart deals that politically connected dopers have scored. I'm glad that Martin and I guess these others didn't go to jail for something that shouldn't be a crime in the first place. But that only makes it even worse for all the folks stuck in jail for the same goddamn thing.

The offspring of important government officials, however, tend to avoid severe punishments for their marijuana crimes.  In 1982, the year that President Reagan launched the war on marijuana, his chief of staff's son was arrested for selling marijuana.  John C.  Baker, the son of future Secretary of State James Baker III, sold a small amount of pot—around a quarter of an ounce—to an undercover cop at the family's ranch in Texas.  Under state law, John Baker faced a possible felony charge and a prison term of between two and twenty years.  Instead, he was charged with a misdemeanor, pleaded guilty and was fined $2,000.  In 1980, Republican Rep.  Dan Burton of Indiana introduced legislation that would require the death penalty for drug dealers.  "We must educate our children about the dangers of drugs," Burton said, "and impose tough new penalties on dealers." Four years later his son was arrested while transporting nearly eight pounds of marijuana from Texas to Indiana.  Burton hired an attorney for his son.  While awaiting trial in that case, Danny Burton III was arrested again, only five months later, for his growing thirty marijuana plants in is Indianapolis apartment.  Police also found a shotgun in the apartment.  Under federal law, Danny Burton faced a possible mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison just for the gun, plus up to three years in prison under state law for all the pot.  Federal charges were never filed against Burton, who wound up receiving a milder sanction: a term of community service, probation and house arrest.  When the son of Richard W.  Riley ( the former South Carolina governor who became Clinton's secretary of education ) was indicted in 1992 on federal charges of conspiring to sell cocaine and marijuana, he faced ten years to life in prison and a fine Of $4 million.  Instead, Richard Riley Jr.  received six months of house arrest.

In September 1996, Rep.  Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., attacked President Clinton for being "cavalier" toward illegal drugs and for appointing too many "soft on crime" liberal judges.  "We must get tough on drug dealers," he declared.  "Those who peddle destruction on our children must pay dearly." Four months later, his son Todd Cunningham was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration after helping to transport 400 pounds of marijuana from California to Massachusetts.  Although Todd Cunningham confessed to having been part of a smuggling ring that had shipped at much as ten tons of pot throughout the U.S. —a crime that can lead to a life sentence without parole—he was charged only with distributing 400 pounds of pot.  The prosecutor in his case recommended a sentence of fourteen months at a boot camp and a halfway house.  Representative Cunningham begged the judge for leniency.  "My son has a good heart," he said, fighting back tears.  "Hes never been in trouble before."

Todd Cunningham was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.  He might have received an even shorter sentence had he not tested positive for cocaine three times while out on bail.  "The sentence Todd got had nothing to do with who Duke is," says the congressman's Press secretary.  "Duke has always been tough on drugs and remains tough on drugs."

More on that here.

reason on drugs here.

And if you haven't caught Drew Carey defending medical marijuana–fully legal in many states–yet, go to reason.tv now or click below: