Former Congressman Bill McCollum (R-FL), who as head of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime played a key role in much of the repressive anti-drug legislation to pass in the last 15 years, is seeking to return to Capitol Hill, this time as a senator. McCollum gave up his House seat in 2000 to run for the Senate only to be defeated by Democrat Bill Nelson, and then was passed over in his bid to be named drug czar for the new Bush administration. Since then, he has licked his wounds as a Washington lobbyist.
Now, he wants back in the game. But while he is well-positioned in early polls, there is a problem: President Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have anointed Mel Martinez as their pick for the position. Martinez, who served under Gov. Bush before serving as housing secretary under President Bush, resigned that position earlier this month to engage full-time in the Senate run. And if that wasn't enough, former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who gained notoriety for her role in the Florida presidential election crisis, is also running and running well.
While neither Martinez nor Harris have ever given any indication of being anything other than ardent prohibitionists, they have a long way to go to match McCollum's record. He advocated tougher sentencing policies, then authored legislation allowing federal prison labor to compete against private companies. He was a congressional stalwart for Plan Columbia, embracing any and all escalations, including the use of the fusarium fungus in coca eradication. He also supported funding for research on an anti-marijuana fungus, and played a key -- if ultimately unsuccessful -- role in pushing for the censorship of anti-drug war views in a 1999 methamphetamine bill. He was also author of a House resolution condemning medical marijuana as a hoax, an act that resulted in a visit to his office from Multiple Sclerosis patient Renee Emry Wolf. Wolf lit up in his office and was subsequently convicted of marijuana possession.
But McCollum's has been condemned not only by drug reformers but by privacy advocates as well. He was winner of the Orwell Award at the 1999 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference in Washington, DC. That dishonor goes to the person who has most promoted Big Brotherism. McCollum scored the award for his efforts to give the FBI expanded wire-tapping capabilities and the ability to read encrypted emails.