Prop. 36 Creates a Speaking Problem for Bill Jones

Prop. 36 Creates a Speaking Problem for Bill Jones
Posted by FoM on September 21, 2000 at 14:43:18 PT
By Andy Furillo, Scripps-McClatchy Western Service
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel
Backers of the drug decriminalization ballot measure on the November ballot sought Wednesday to pressure Secretary of State Bill Jones not to speak at a conference their opponents are staging next month.Yes on 36 forces suggested that the nonprofit organization financing the Oct. 3-4 conference in Long Beach may be violating state campaign finance laws by paying for the conference. Under state and federal tax laws, nonprofit organizations are barred from political activity.
Opponents countered that the conference is an "educational" and not a political event. And a spokesman for Jones said he plans to speak at the conference unless the Fair Political Practices Commission tells him it's a problem.Proposition 36 would divert from prison or jail and mandate treatment for virtually all drug users arrested and convicted on possession charges, even of harder substances such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.The October conference, entitled "Summit for a Drug Free California: Exposing the Flaws of Proposition 36," is being sponsored by the St. Petersburg, Fla., based Drug Free America Foundation. It will feature panel discussions on the initiative, including one instructing opponents in the art of media relations. Former national drug czar William Bennett had been scheduled as the keynote speaker, but an organizer said Wednesday that the former Republican presidential cabinet member will not be able to attend.Dave Fratello, spokesman for the Yes on 36 campaign, told reporters outside Secretary Jones' office Wednesday that it is "highly irregular and probably improper" for tax-exempt groups to "intervene" in political campaigns."This campaign event, if allowed to go forward unchallenged, could open the floodgates and allow millions of dollars in nonprofit money to flow into political campaigns in California every year," Fratello said.Fratello formally asked the FPPC to investigate Drug Free America's financing of the conference. He also asked Jones to take a look "to see if their financing of this event meets his own personal smell test for clean campaign financing." In the meantime, Fratello suggested that Jones avoid the Long Beach discussion. Jones is scheduled to speak at the conference on how Proposition 36 might impact the state's three-strikes law, which he authored."We are not challenging anyone's right to speak out on Proposition 36 or to spend money legally to get their message out," Fratello said. "But we do believe Bill Jones can understand this issue and be true to his principles and just say no to this conference."Jones' spokesman, Alfie Charles, cited a legal opinion issued by No on 36 attorney Ben Davidian, the former executive director of the FPPC, that nothing appears to be improper about Drug Free America's financing of the conference.Calling the conference "an educational thing," No on 36 spokeswoman Jean Munoz said the supporters of the measure "are afraid of California voters being educated about this issue."Contact Andy Furillo of the Sacramento Bee in California at: http://www.sacbee.comSource: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)Published: September 20, 2000Author: Andy FurilloCopyright  2000, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co. Contact: letters knews.comAddress: PO Box 59038, Knoxville, TN 37950-9038Website: Articles & Web Site:California Campaign For New Drug Policy To Fight Drug War Stirs Debate Articles - Proposition 36 
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