Indiana Governor, and 2012 hopeful, Mitch Daniels gave what was perhaps the most interesting and important speech at CPAC this year (see it here) but with greater notoriety comes greater scrutiny.
Now somebody has dug up the fact that the Governor was arrested for possession of marijuana back in 1970. The details:
Thursday, Politico.com ran a glowing profile of Mitch Daniels and his chances should he decide to run for President. Now, the same website is also running a story that recounts a Daniels arrest in 1970. It spells out the details that led then-Princeton student Mitch Daniels to pay a $350 fine for an infraction tied to marijuana possession.
IUPUI political scientist Margaret Ferguson says it’s part of what comes with national exposure.
“The chances of some new story coming up are pretty small at this point, I think,” she says, “but it’s a higher level of scrutiny, a higher office brings higher levels of expectation.”
The marijuana story is well known in Indiana political circles. It was widely reported when Daniels first ran for governor in 2004. Democrats tried to make it an issue.
Obviously, Indiana voters don’t care much about the arrest if it’s been known since 2004 and yet Daniels is still governor. But does this matter on the national stage?
I don’t see how it can. Bill Clinton, infamously, claimed that he once put a marijuana joint to his lips and didn’t inhale (if memory serves I think he’s actually admitted that he did inhale since). President Barack Obama has admitted to having used drugs, marijuana specifically, in the past. President George W. Bush reportedly struggled with drug abuse in his past, and was an admitted recovering alcoholic.
So if Mitch Daniels got popped for marijuana possession over 40 years ago…does anyone really care? Of course, Politico points out that the investigation into Daniels went a bit further than mere possession:
According to campus newspaper reports supplied by the university, Daniels and two other students were swept up in a five-month joint investigation between New Jersey state police and local police that culminated in the May 14th, 1970 raid on Daniels’ shared room at111 Cuyler Hall.
Daniels and the two other students were initially charged with possession of marijuana, LSD and prescription drugs without a prescription and with ”maintaining a common nuisance by maintaining a place for the sale of narcotics.”
A local detective testified that police had seized “enough marijuana to fill two size 12 shoe boxes and quantities of prescription drugs were found in the room,” according to a dispatch in the Daily Princetonian, whose archives aren’t available online for that year.
The undercover state police officer involved in the sting visited Daniels’ room “eight or nine times” and “observed narcotics paraphernalia, saw marijuana and hashish being used, and purchased marijuana prescription drugs and LSD.”
Daniels was never implicated in selling the drugs, and has never hidden the incident. During his 2004 run for governor, a former roommate told the Indianapolis Star that Daniels “had nothing to do” with selling drugs, saying “I was busted.” The roommate went on to say he was no fan of then-President Bush and would have gladly offered unflattering information about a GOP candidate if he’d had it.
Police are pretty notorious for exaggerating the fruits of their investigations, and given that a five month investigation netted them just 3 arrests and convictions for pot possession it’s not hard to imagine that they were doing their best to make what they found a lot more substantial than it was.
I think the public is growing more accepting of marijuana, specifically, if not drug dealing generally. But if Daniels made a mistake in his past but went on to transcend that and find success anyway that should be mark in his favor not a smear on his character.