Donald Trump's drug czar pick drops out. Will Pam Bondi be back in? - Florida Politics

Donald Trump’s drug czar pick drops out. Will Pam Bondi be back in?

What is old is new again, as rumors re-emerge that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi could have a job in the Trump administration.

With a new twist in the nomination for the nation’s drug czar, Bondi returns to the spotlight, amid renewed speculation she could be headed to Washington.

And there is a good argument to be made for Donald Trump to put Bondi at the top of the list: Her record on fighting drugs in Florida, and her overwhelming success in shutting down the state’s pill mills.

After Trump’s nomination, many considered Bondi a sure winner to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly known as the drug czar. As a friend of the president, Bondi had a role on Trump’s transition team. Earlier this year, the president appointed her to a White House panel on drug abuse – one of Bondi’s passions as attorney general.

However, in a news conference Monday where Trump announced he would declare a national emergency on the nation’s opioid epidemic sometime next week, the president showed a distinct lack of confidence in Rep. Tom Marino, his current pick for drug czar.

This non-support comes after a joint Washington Post/60 Minutes report blasted the Pennsylvania Republican congressman for steering legislation to make it harder to act against big drug companies – which would add a degree of difficulty in the battle against opioids.

The Washington Post wrote: “The president … said he had not yet spoken with Marino about the … report, but if he determines that Marino’s work was detrimental to the administration’s goal of combating opioid addiction, ‘I will make a change.'”

As of Tuesday morning, Marino withdrew his name from consideration.

What apparently sealed Marino’s fate, Axios notes, was that the report “detailed how a targeted lobbying effort helped weaken the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continue to rise.”

Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, herself seeking the Senate seat in one of the states hardest-hit by the opioid crisis, is also facing a backlash as “a lead sponsor of Marino’s bill.”

According to CBS Evening News, nearly 13 million people had watched the “60 Minutes” segment – an audience that included Trump, a known fan of the show. Trump confirmed Monday he “saw the report.”

Now that Marino’s nomination is dead, Bondi could be in contention for the job.

If she did accept a role in the Trump administration, Gov. Rick Scott will need to name a successor to fill Bondi’s remaining term through next year, adding a new wrinkle in the growing field of candidates to replace her in 2018.

 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, Florida Politics, Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of the quarterly INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, SaintPetersBlog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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