DEA Flip-Flopping?

What’s up with the DEA?

First, it was reported that a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent had sent out an e-mail seeking a campaign manager to defeat a Colorado ballot issue that would make up to an ounce of pot legal for adults.

Proponents of the issue said it was illegal interference by the federal government into a non-partisan election. But Jeff Sweetin, special agent at the DEA’s Denver offices, said in a Boulder Daily Camera article last Sunday, that no laws were broken, confirming the letter’s information.

Then, in a KMGH Channel 7 story, Sweetin went against his own words, denying knowledge of information he had confirmed before.From the Boulder Daily Camera article, where Sweetin confirms that $10,000 had been raised by a committee mentioned in the DEA e-mail:

Jeff Sweetin, the special agent in charge of the Denver office of the DEA, said voters have every right to change the laws. And the law allows his agency to get involved in that process to tell voters why they shouldn’t decriminalize pot.

“My mantra has been, ‘If Americans use the democratic process to make change, we’re in favor of that,'” he said. “We’re in favor of the democratic process. But as a caveat, we’re in favor of it working based on all the facts.”

Sweetin said the $10,000 the committee has to spend came from private donations, including some from agents’ own accounts. He said the DEA isn’t trying to “protect Coloradans from themselves” but that the agency is the expert when it comes to drugs.

Then Sweetin says that’s he’s never heard of the $10,000 before, on Channel 7:

Sweetin said, despite reports to the contrary, his office is not campaigning against it or fundraising.

“We don’t have $10,000 in money. There may be organizations that are raising money,” said Sweetin. “There is no $10,000 in money that I’ve ever heard of.”

This revelation has led to Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), the group that put the marijuana measure on the ballot, to claim that a cover-up could be taking place. In a press release from today, the organization presented questions seeking information about the DEA’s plans and possible funding that may be going towards a campaign effort.

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About the Author

Erin Rosa

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature.

Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state.

Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters.

She can be reached at erosa@coloradoindependent.com.

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