Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jack Conway released another TV ad late Friday criticizing Republican opponent Rand Paul for his stance on using federal money to fight the state’s drug problem.
The latest 30-second spot features Boyd County resident Mike Donta, whose son, Michael, died as a result of his drug addiction, according to the ad.
“For my family and the thousands of others just like us, drugs are a crisis,” Donta says. “I can’t believe that Rand Paul said that drugs aren’t a pressing issue in Kentucky and that he would end federal drug enforcement. He doesn’t know us. He doesn’t understand us. How can he represent us?”
Donta is referencing a comment made by Paul this summer to the Associated Press in which he said drugs are not a “real pressing issue” for voters. Paul has since said the comment was misconstrued by the media and the he understands drug abuse is a serious problem facing Eastern Kentucky.
However, confusion continues regarding Paul’s stance on federal funding for Operation UNITE, a task force involved in fighting drugs in the region, or other regional drug task forces.
Paul told a group of county officials gathered in Louisville this summer that he would “rather see drug abuse and dependency treated and paid for at the local level.”
Paul explained that when tax money goes to Washington, much gets wasted so, if elected, he would work to keep more of Kentuckians’ tax dollars at home to deal with problems such as drugs. He did not say directly that he would seek to cut federal funding for Operation UNITE.
Clay County Sheriff Kevin Johnson, a Republican, has since said that Paul assured him in a telephone call seeking Johnson’s endorsement that he would not seek to cut funding for Operation UNITE. However, Paul declined Wednesday to confirm his support for the task force when asked by the Herald-Leader.
“Dr Paul’s position has not changed,” Paul Campaign spokesman Gary Howard said in a statement on Wednesday. “He still believes that adjudication and rehabilitation of drug abusers would be best conducted at the local level, but he has never stated there would be no federal involvement in combating our drug problem.”
Paul did not answer a question on whether he supports UNITE or whether he thinks federal money that comes to other agencies and programs in Kentucky for drug enforcement and treatment should be cut.
– John Stamper and Bill Estep