Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff was concerned that an editorial on addiction would give her opponents ammunition to claim that she supports mandatory drug and alcohol testing for children and teens, according to emails released by WikiLeaks.
Clinton, who was running for the Democratic nomination at the time, supports annual screening – which can involve drug testing in some circumstances – because that is the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Her team decided to scrap the language for the final op-ed published in the New Hampshire Union-Leader, but noted they would reconsider such screenings “on the other side of this election.”
Campaign strategists raised concerns about the language of the op-ed after policy adviser Kristina Costa sent them a draft on Aug. 15.
“The only thing that stood out to me was annual drug screening for children and teenagers, could see the GOP having a field day,” campaign spokeswoman Karen Finney wrote.
Joel Benenson, chief strategist for Clinton’s campaign, said Democrats would also “have a field day” with that portion of the op-ed and asked whether it would violate the Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures.
Costa replied that such screenings were a “major pillar of the ‘prevention goal'” and asked whether they should elaborate in the op-ed to note that children are screened for a variety of other illnesses. She added that substance abuse screening was different from “random drug testing.”
Nick Merrill, Clinton’s press secretary, also said he was troubled by the language.
“Not to mention I probably wouldn’t have passed at times in my younger years … I bet I’m not the only one,” he wrote.
Ann O’Leary, a senior policy adviser in Clinton’s campaign, responded saying that the American Academy of Pediatrics supports these screenings and that Clinton has a long history with the group.
“This is not ‘mandatory,’ but it is part of prevention and wellness and it is about supporting the AAP in making this happen by raising awareness, making sure pediatricians get reimbursed for their time in doing these screenings, etc.,” O’Leary continues.
Ultimately, she concluded the language would be “misconstrued” and that mentions of the screenings were “likely more trouble than they are worth.”
“Let’s kill it and I’ll revisit it as a good policy idea on the other side of this election but not one for campaign fodder,” she wrote.
The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes involuntary substance abuse testing and recommends doctors ask patients how often they use drugs or alcohol.
Clinton’s campaign staff has not confirmed the authenticity of the leaked emails, which are purported to have come from the account of campaign chairman John Podesta. Podesta has blamed the disclosures on a Russian hack.
Source: US News &World Report