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Governor Says Maddy's Early Drug Use Weighs in Treasurer Decision

November 07, 1987|GEORGE SKELTON | Times Sacramento Bureau Chief

Gov. George Deukmejian said Friday that Senate Republican leader Ken Maddy's admission in 1978 that he had twice smoked marijuana is "obviously a factor" in his pending decision about whether to nominate Maddy as the next state treasurer.

"It's something you have to consider," Deukmejian told reporters, because Maddy's previous use of marijuana would have a "negative implication" during legislative confirmation proceedings.

Maddy could not be reached for comment. But the senator's press secretary, Dan Pellissier, said in Sacramento that the "isolated incidents from (Maddy's) past" became "the subject of considerable discussion" in 1978 and "he does not believe it is a significant factor today."

On 'Short List'

Maddy, from Fresno, generally has been considered to be on Deukmejian's "short list" of potential nominees to replace Treasurer Jesse M. Unruh, who died Aug. 4.

The senator's name came up as Deukmejian answered reporters' questions about Supreme Court nominee Douglas H. Ginsburg's disclosure Thursday that he had smoked marijuana "on a few occasions" during the 1960s and 1970s.

Deukmejian, whose political philosophy often is described as moderately conservative, would not say whether he believes President Reagan should withdraw Ginsburg's nomination. But the governor said that Ginsburg, assuming he had been given an opportunity by Administration officials during pre-nomination questioning to reveal his past use of marijuana, "absolutely should have (disclosed it), particularly to a President who has such strong feelings against drug use."

Deukmejian said that past use of marijuana, in his mind, "wouldn't be a total disqualifier" for an appointment to a high government position, including the judiciary. "The key thing," he said, is whether the person "has a problem today" with drug or alcohol abuse.

Stricter Guidelines

But at another point, Deukmejian seemed to adopt a tougher standard. Referring to Ginsburg specifically, Deukmejian said, "A lot depends on when he used it and how long and what age he was . . . somebody knowingly breaking the law at an age when they're mature adults, compared to, say, experimenting with it once or twice when they're a teen-ager. . . ."

The governor said that in his own Administration's interviewing of prospective appointees, they are not queried specifically about past drug use but are asked "if there's anything whatsoever they've ever done or ever been involved in that might be embarrassing if it were to be revealed."

Deukmejian was asked about Maddy, who, while running unsuccessfully for governor in 1978, acknowledged in answer to reporters' questions that he had smoked marijuana once in Texas while in the Air Force in the 1950s and again in Jamaica while a California legislator in the early 1970s.

Maddy said at the time, "It didn't do anything for me" and "I don't think marijuana is good for you." But some of his political opponents seized on the admission to attack Maddy's moderate philosophy.

Deukmejian said he recently discussed the matter with Maddy because "it's something that would be bound to come up" during confirmation proceedings if the senator were nominated to be treasurer.

No Decision Yet

The governor said he would nominate a new treasurer very soon but insisted he had not yet decided who the nominee should be. He hinted that an announcement could come late next week, after the Legislature recesses a special session on earthquake relief.

Speculation has centered primarily on Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Long Beach), who is presumed to be the governor's personal home-town favorite. Deukmejian represented Long Beach in the Legislature for several years and Lungren is a friend of his.

Others considered to be on the "short list" are Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach); Tom Stickel, a San Diego financier and Deukmejian political backer; Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights) and Sen. Robert G. Beverly (R-Manhattan Beach).

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