This Is Your Politician on Drugs
Ever since Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack during a “drunken stupor” earlier this month, American media (this website included) has pointed, gawked, and laugh at the red-faced canuck. But this Tuesday, attention was turned back toward the U.S., as Rep. Trey Radel of Florida was charged with misdemeanor cocaine possession. Wednesday, Radel, the self-described “hip-hop conservative,” pleaded guilty to possession charges, admitting that he purchased cocaine from an undercover cop in the capitol. Ten months after he was sworn into his first term, Radel was sentenced to one-year probation and plans to get treatment in Florida.
Radel’s indiscretion was a reminder that American politicians have long struggled with drugs, from marijuana to crack, crystal meth and pills—and those the substances pols were caught with. Here’s a look back at some of the more notorious political drug busts over the years.
Rep. Fred Richmond, D-New York
Before Radel, a sitting member of Congress hadn’t been charged with a drug offense since 1982, when Rep. Frederick Richmond, a Democrat from New York, was convicted on charges of both tax evasion and marijuana possession. Richmond was forced to step down as a part of his plea bargain.
Charles Imbrecht, California Energy Commission Chairman
Charles Imbrecht served as California’s Energy Commission chairman for 14 years before retiring in 1997 amid charges of drunk driving and marijuana possession. The then-47-year-old had allegedly been weaving his Geo Prizm through Ventura when he was pulled over by sheriff’s deputies who reportedly smelled alcohol on his breath and found less than an ounce of weed in his pocket. Imbrecht already had two drunk driving convictions under his belt. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to 40 days in the County Jail.
John M. Fabrizi, Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut
Despite insisting that it “never, ever affected my job performance,” former Bridgeport, Connecticut Mayor, John Fabrizi admitted in June 2006 that he’d been using cocaine and abusing alcohol ever since he’d entered office three years earlier. Fabrizi came clean after a Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee member told the FBI that he had video footage of Fabrizi using cocaine. Fabrizi remained in office after confessing his drug use, but announced in 2007 that he would not seek re-election. He didn’t disappear from politics, however—Fabrizi served on the Democratic State Central Committee of Connecticut from 2008 to 2010 and publicly lent his support to Bridgeport’s subsequent mayor, Bill Finch.
Mel LeBlanc, Arlington, Texas, City Council Member and Deputy Mayor
On July 23, 2011, Candy LeBlanc called 911 when she came home from a business trip to discover that her husband, Arlington City Council Member and Deputy Mayor Mel LeBlanc, “had not shaved or bathed in days, and did not appear to be acting right.” LeBlanc, who had just returned from rehab for marijuana and methamphetamine addiction two weeks prior, had relapsed. When police responded to the local politician’s call, they recovered a bag containing crystal meth and a glass pipe in his home. LeBlanc’s wife also told investigators that he was high on K2, a synthetic and illegal marijuana imitation, at the time. That call sparked an investigation into LeBlanc’s illegal activities, which discovered that not only was he doing drugs, but that he got them from prostitutes. Less than a week after reports of the investigation surfaced in February, 2012, LeBlanc announced that he’d be resigning from the Arlington city council, writing “I regret and apologize for any pain I have caused our organization,” in an email to his fellow council members.
Steve Katz, New York State Assemblyman
When New York State Assemblyman Steve Katz was pulled over with a bag of marijuana on him by a state trooper in March, 2013, he was not only outed as a pot user but as a hypocrite. The year before, the Republican from Yorktown had voted against legalizing medical marijuana. Katz’s possession charges were dropped as part of a plea deal that included paying a $75 fine performing 20 hours of community service. He’s still in office.
Dustin Grubbs, Mayor of Poulan, Georgia
“Pain pills. There were oxycodone, oxycontin, two different mixtures of vicodin. Five milligram and 10 milligram.” That’s what drug agents said they found when they searched the truck of Poulan, Georgia, Mayor Dustin Grubbs in September 2012. Agents determined that the pills—57 in total—had been purchased illegally, not from a pharmacy, and the mayor was arrested and hit with several charges of drug possession. He was released from the county jail a day later on $25,000 bond. Grubbs was indicted in January for possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute. He is still currently serving as mayor of Poulan.
Marion Barry, Mayor of Washington, D.C.
The original crack-smoking mayor, Marion Barry was arrested in 1990, while serving as mayor of Washington, D.C., for crack cocaine possession. After serving six months in a federal prison, Barry came back and won a fourth term as mayor. He’s currently serving his fifth term on the D.C. city council.