Michele Leonhart, the chief of Drug Enforcement Administration is soon going to step down after mishandling the sex-related controversy involving the DEA agents who attended a party in Colombia. According to the news reports at the time, they had prostitutes hired for them by members of the Colombian drug cartels.
She is also known to have had disagreements with various officials, including the president over legalizing marijuana. She announced that her retirement is due in May, thus putting an end to a 35-year career in the agency and an 8-year management of the DEA.
The news of her retirement was received with mixed feelings by other officials. Attorney General Eric Holder stated that she had devoted “her life and her professional career to the defense of the nation”, making no reference to the scandal she neglected to investigate accordingly.
However, White House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, along with Democrat Elijah Cummings characterized her decision to retire as the right thing to do, stating that they are welcoming fresh leadership in order to give DEA a chance to restore itself.
Bob Goodlatte, House Judiciary Committee Chairman was in the same frame of mind, approving of Leonhart’s announcement to retire. He made reference to the past events and emphasized the importance of putting an end to the unjustified protection of agents that misbehave. Michele Leonhart did not react to these statements and made no public comments.
Officially, the reason of her departure is her attitude towards the prostitution scandal involving seven agents. She classified the incident as minor and they were only suspended for 10 days. However, a former administrator of the DEA stated that the real reasons behind her departure were of political nature.
According to him, Leonhart had the courage to stand up to the president and challenge his decision of supporting the legalization of marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington. Obama declared at the time that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol and that the penalties should not be as harsh as they were.
Nevertheless, Leonhart boldly opposed the states’ decision to go forward with legalizing marijuana.
After the hearings that took place last week, the White House press secretary Josh Earnest declined to defend Michele Leonhart and did not mention whether or not Obama had confidence in her. He only referred to the fact that the accusations that the seven agents faced were “troubling” and that the president expected a lot from the people involved in the administration.
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