HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The next national drug czar is likely to be a congressman who was an early supporter of President Donald Trump, the head of the Pennsylvania Republican Party said Tuesday.
Party chairman Val DiGiorgio said “any day now” he expects an announcement from the White House that four-term U.S. Rep. Tom Marino has been nominated to be the next director of national drug control policy.
“He looks likely, based on my conversations with the White House and folks in Marino’s office” on Tuesday, DiGiorgio said.
Marino’s spokesman and the White House declined to comment. CBS News first reported Marino was in line for the appointment.
Marino, who lives outside Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is a former county prosecutor who served as U.S. attorney in Pennsylvania’s Middle District under President George W. Bush.
DiGiorgio said Marino would be able to draw from a background in law enforcement as well as connections in the Capitol.
The prospect that his seat in Congress may soon open up has drawn interest from potential candidates, said state Rep. Garth Everett, a Republican who once was an intern under Marino when he was Lycoming County’s head prosecutor.
“I think that his experience as a prosecutor, practical experience with those kinds of things, he’s almost the perfect person to be involved” in national drug policy, Everett said.
If Trump taps Marino for drug czar, he would be the fifth member of the House to join the administration. Trump selected Georgia Rep. Tom Price to serve as secretary of Health and Human Services, South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney for Office of Management and Budget director, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke for Interior secretary and Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo for CIA director.
Trump’s attorney general is former Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Marino’s official online biography describes how he worked factory jobs before enrolling in community college at age 30 and then going to college and law school. He worked as an attorney in private practice before winning election as district attorney in 1991. Bush appointed him federal prosecutor in 2002.
Marino became one of the first sitting congressmen to endorse Trump, saying in February 2016 that Trump was right to focus on illegal immigration.
“I have never seen such excitement and enthusiasm around a candidate in my lifetime,” Marino said at the time. “He is able to attract new voters from across the spectrum and that is exactly what our party and country needs.”
Marino, 64, has contributed to the GOP’s focus on restraining government regulations with a proposal that would stop all rules with costs over $1 billion annually from going into effect until all court challenges are settled. The measure is part of a bill that passed the House earlier this year but faces difficult prospects in the Senate.
Speaker Paul Ryan appointed Marino to serve on a committee last year that worked out the details on legislation designed to expand access to treatment for people struggling with opioid addiction.
Marino has at times gotten in trouble for his outspokenness. He shouted at protesters outside a campaign event in Williamsport, “What do you do for a job?” and “What kind of welfare are you on?”
He tweeted after Superstorm Sandy: “Happy Halloween and Happy Belated Monday to all of you lucky stiffs who haven’t been to work yet this week.” The tweet was quickly deleted, and the congressman said his account had been improperly accessed.
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE and KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press