Attorney General says federal drug czar immune from Nevada campaign law
April 24, 2003
The Attorney General’s Office has ruled the White House drug czar is immune to Nevada campaign law reporting requirements.
The issue came up because drug czar John Walters campaigned actively against the question on Nevada’s 2002 election ballot decriminalizing possession of three ounces or less of marijuana.
Nevada law requires every individual and entity which advocates for passage or defeat of a ballot question to submit campaign contribution and expense reports.
Walters had his White House lawyer send Secretary of State Dean Heller a letter stating that he is immune from enforcement of Nevada election laws. Walters and his office refused to report what they had spent in advocating against the marijuana question, which was defeated by 60.7 percent of the voters.
That prompted Heller to ask the attorney general’s office for a ruling.
“The opinion I received today clearly states that Mr. Walters is immune from Nevada’s reporting laws,” Heller said Wednesday.
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That opinion from Attorney General Brian Sandoval says it’s not clear whether Walters received any contributions, but it is clear there were expenditures in bringing him to Nevada to advocate against the ballot question and to run TV ads opposing legalization of the drug.
“However, both of these activities, advocacy against legalization of drugs and opposition to drug use, are clearly within the exercise of his role as director of (the drug czar’s office) and consistent with the stated policy of that office,” the opinion states.
It concludes that federal courts have regularly held federal officers immune from state action when acting in their official capacity.