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Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty

Representing the 5th District of Connecticut


Following Reports of DEA Nominee Marino’s Efforts to Weaken Drug Laws, Esty Calls for President Trump to Withdraw Nomination

October 16, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) called on President Donald Trump to withdraw the nomination of Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10) to head the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) following reports of the lawmaker’s previous efforts to hamper the DEA’s efforts to combat opioid abuse. 

An October 15, 2017 report conducted jointly between the Washington Post and ’60 Minutes’ titled “The Drug Industry’s Triumph over the DEA,” noted Rep. Marino’s multi-year effort to weaken DEA’s aggressive efforts to combat drug distribution companies supplying “rogue doctors” who “wrote fraudulent prescriptions for enormous numbers of pills,” and “complicit pharmacists,” who “filled them without question, often for cash.” The report notes that “hundreds of millions of pain pills, such as Vicodin and oxycodone,” made their way into the hands of drug dealers and Americans struggling with addiction as a result of the activity DEA sought to combat. 

“The Connecticut families I’ve met who lost loved ones to the epidemic of drug addiction plaguing our country deserve better than a DEA chief who, as we now know, was the architect of the effort to cripple the DEA’s ability to confront the opioid crisis,” Esty said. “With the state’s medical examiner overwhelmed with autopsies from the countless victims of addiction, we need a reliable federal partner who will put those harmed and their families, not the interests of major pharmaceutical companies, first. Representative Marino should withdraw himself from consideration, and if he doesn’t, President Trump should do it for him.” 

Rep. Marino’s efforts came on the heels of a multi-year $106 million lobbying effort from companies and organizations aligned with the pharmaceutical industry, the report found. “The major drug companies also brought their campaign to Capitol Hill,” the report noted, describing the representative as one of the “key allies” of companies seeking to hinder the DEA. In addition to his colleagues in Congress, Marino aggressively lobbied then-Attorney General Eric Holder, telling Holder that the DEA treated companies like “illicit narcotics cartels.” 

Esty recently spoke to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the epidemic of the opioid crisis, noting that addiction “affects families regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status.” Her full video remarks can be viewed here.