Pro-pot group sues state over spending

Posted: Friday, July 15, 2005

A pro-marijuana group is suing Alaska campaign finance regulators in an effort to force them to investigate a deputy federal drug czar's expenses in campaigning against a 2004 marijuana legalization initiative.

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project says Scott Burns, deputy director for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, toured Alaska last fall giving public speeches against an initiative to legalize marijuana in the state.

Burns, however, did not disclose to the Alaska Public Offices Commission how much was spent on the trip.

"The Marijuana Policy Project and the groups supporting the initiative in Alaska filed reports and told the citizens of Alaska exactly how much was spent on the campaign and we simply feel the federal government should play by the same rules," said Marijuana Policy Project government relations director Steve Fox.

Fox said the group filed the lawsuit in an Anchorage Superior Court Thursday. He said the group has filed a similar lawsuit in Montana.

Fox said in February his group formally requested that the Alaska Public Offices Commission investigate the campaign stops made by Burns.

A month later APOC rejected the request, stating that the commission does not have authority to investigate "the United States and its officials."

Alaska Department of Law spokesman Mark Morones said he has not seen a copy of the lawsuit, but, he said, "I think APOC had denied the complaint because it's a federal agency involved and it didn't have jurisdiction."

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