Ex-drug czar nominee faces tough primary challenger after scandal derailed his appointment

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., the running to lead the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2017 until controversy around a bill he supported derailed his nomination. He now faces a challenger in a tough primary race for his seat in the House and is on a mission to reshape his image, according to The Hill.

In October, it was revealed the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, which Mr. Marino cosponsored, made it more difficult for the Drug Enforcement Agency to freeze suspicious drug shipments from overseas. The revelation took him out of the running for an appointment on the presidential drug task force, but Mr. Marino argues the language surrounding drug freezes was not his idea.

He and other co-sponsors in the House passed the bill to the Senate, where Mr. Marino said lawmakers changed the bill's language to require freezes to be caused by "substantial likelihood."

"When it came back to us, I argued with my staff about the word 'substantial,'" Mr. Marino told The Hill. "I said, 'That is a much higher burden,' and they said, 'We can't do anything about it, the Senate took your bill, it changed it, it's their language, it's what [the Department of Justice] wanted, and that's what we're stuck with.'"

Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko, Mr. Marino's challenger for the Republican nomination, recently drew attention to the bill in a statement on his website, which Mr. Marino called a "cheap shot."

"I've sat in the living rooms of friends and family who have lost loved ones to this tragic addiction," Mr. McLinko wrote. "I'm a loyal Republican, but after watching the 60 Minutes episode and hearing from families across the district, it is obvious Tom Marino puts the interests of campaign contributors ahead of the health and safety of his constituents."

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