DEA chief Michele Leonhart will retire after sex scandal and breaking drug policy

DEA chief Michele Leonhart will retire after sex scandal and breaking drug policy

Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator Michelle Leonhart is poised to retire after a house oversight committee issued a letter expressing “no confidence” in her leadership last week due to her mishandling of circumstances.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder junior announced on Tuesday that Michele Leonhart, the DEA’s top official, will be officially stepping down next month. This comes after a hearing last week in which lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee issued a letter expressing “no confidence” in her leadership. They expressed outrage over her handling of reports that DEA agents in Colombia had participated in sex parties with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels. This also comes after Leonhart broke with the White House on marijuana policy, opposing moves by states to legalise its use either recreationally or medicinally.

Leonhart will be ending a 35 year tenure with the agency as she retires mid May. She has led the agency since 2007 and was the first women to hold the rank of ‘special agent in charge.’ Holder praised her for her long service and in a statement called her a “trailblazer for equality” and a “good friend”, but in recent years she had faced accusations of mismanagement.

The matter of finding a replacement is likely to stir up Capital Hill with liberal Democrats calling for Obama to nominate an administrator who will back marijuana policy; where as, conservatives will be mounting an opposition.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Democrat-Oregon made a statement on the matter, “I encourage the president to use this as an opportunity to fill this important role with someone who understands the outdated federal approach to marijuana isn’t working.” He added, “the American public has moved on. Most now feel marijuana should be legalised.”

While Leonhart’s views on marijuana policy had long been in conflict with Obama’s, the deciding factor in her retirement appeared to be her handling of the prostitution scandal, but no one in the White House was stepping out to defend her.

Further coverage and more info on the sex scandal can be found here.


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