THE BLOG
10/13/2014 02:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Oregon Drug Summit "Intentionally Planned" Around Marijuana Legalization

On October 1-3, Kevin Sabet toured Oregon delivering a PowerPoint presentation called "Marijuana and our Youth." This was part of the Oregon Marijuana Education Summit & Tour happening just two weeks prior to the mailing of ballots for a legalization vote.

Controversy arose when the Measure 91 campaign pointed out the political nature of such a tour, especially when featuring "the quarterback of the anti-legalization movement" delivering "education" about marijuana.  In response, the Oregon Health Authority sent out a letter explaining how such activities could be construed as a political event for which drug prevention grant money could not be spent.  BestCare Prevention, one of these grantees, then pulled its $15,000 of grant money from sponsorship of the tour.  The Oregonian reported the executive director of BestCare explaining, "the summit has been held for several years in October and that this year's event was not intended to influence the marijuana vote."

I've already explained how this allegedly annual October marijuana summit only happened in 2012 and 2014, when we had legalization on the ballot in the forms of Measure 80 and Measure 91, respectively.  Now, thanks to the Open Records Request you helped fund, we find emails to Jefferson County DA Steven LeRiche that prove that tour organizers hold these summits to attack legalization on the ballot.

  • Same "Statewide Marijuana Summit" as 2014, check.
  • Same "Living Hope Christian Center in Madras" as 2014, check.
  • Same speakers (Kevin Sabet & Eric Martin) as 2014, check.
  • "Our educational event is intentionally planned at this time as Measure 80 in on the November ballot to legalize marijuana.  Ballots go out the week of our summit." ... priceless!
In previous reports, I noted how for the 2014 Summit, Kevin Sabet was asking for $3,000 per city - which would have been $39,000 of public money from drug prevention grants for a thirteen-city tour.  After our attention to this public funding, it became a seven-city tour where Kevin Sabet's fees would equal $21,000 in private donations, including $15,000 from the Sheriffs' Association...

...and at least $2,000 from funds raised by DA Steven LeRiche from other DAs between 10am and 2pm on a Friday from LeRiche's office using county email.

Halfway through that Friday, DA LeRiche gets an update on the contracted cost for each of the presenters.  (Oddly, the contracts referenced in this email did not come attached to the email.  I have requested those attachments from Alexa Gassner, the Jefferson County Counsel who has been handing my requests there.)

It seems, however, that Kevin Sabet was willing to negotiate a little bit lower price, just $15,000, or $5,000 per day to "educate" Oregonians about marijuana before voting on Measure 91:

(That part about "smuggling marijuana into our jails and prisons" is one of the Measure 91 lies being promulgated by DA Josh Marquis.  Measure 91 adds a ticketable infraction for a jail worker who possesses marijuana at a prison, but does not repeal the current Class C felony for smuggling marijuana into a prison.  You'd think a District Attorney would understand that... if he wanted to.  And don't ask me how we accessed a press release from 2015.)

With Kevin Sabet back onboard, DA LeRiche could not wait to get this out to anti-legailization talk radio host Lars Larson (side note: Chris Christie, Erick Erickson, Lars Larson... why do only conservative parents name their kids redundant names?  And no, Robbie Robertson of The Band is a pseudonym):

It also seems Kevin Sabet was actively involved in helping to produce and secure funding for the tour:

Sabet's quote "to pay for me" leads me to believe that, indeed, this is straight profit for Kevin Sabet and not some pass-through of funds for his appearance that somehow benefits his Project SAM organization.

Again, money for "my appearances at the Tour." If now "we will be able to tell the media the Summit IS happening, albeit with non-public money," I'd have to assume that before now, it was planned to happen with public money in 2014 and most definitely used public money in 2012.

After DA LeRiche spent four work hours using county email and phone to raise at least $2,000 to help pay Kevin Sabet, he was also coordinating panelists for the Summit.  Here he receives a note from Jeffrey Lichtenberg, the director of Jefferson County's Juvenile Division, indicating Lichtenberg was withdrawing from his participation at the Summit.  DA LeRiche explains how the Summit would help them deal with the "likely legalization of marijuana" happening under Measure 91:


The more we uncover, the dirtier this deal becomes.  You can help us by digging into the documents stored at http://radicalruss.com/docs.  In addition to uncovering the public funding of Kevin Sabet's appearance at the 2012 Summit and the attempt to repeat the public money cash grab for him again in 2014, we are very concerned about the use of "private emails" - Gmail accounts for coastda@gmail.com and madrasda@gmail.com - that the counties are refusing to turn over in our Open Records Request.

Their defense of the refusal is that the counties don't maintain the Gmail servers those emails are stored upon.  That is irrelevant.  The state law refers to public records that are including but not limited to that which the county stores on email servers.  The idea that our public law enforcement officials may be evading Open Records Laws by conducting the public's business in Gmail is frightening to anyone who prefers transparency and accountability in our democracy, regardless of where one stands on marijuana legalization.

For just one of many instances, here is DA Steven LeRiche passing on the official Oregon Health Authority notice warning about proscription on using grant money for political events from his co.jefferson.or.us address to his madrasda@gmail.com address: