Over the past few years, some Republican-controlled states have created a new front in the war on the poor by passing laws requiring drug testing for welfare recipients. The programs have been a spectacular failure, with courts throwing out some of the laws as unconstitutional, and in other cases states have found the rate of drug use by those on welfare is much lower than that of the population at large. As a counter to those laws, some have proposed, at least semi-seriously, that we should be drug testing politicians. A story out of West Virginia, which last spring passed a drug test law for welfare recipients, suggests that might be a good idea.
Herald-Mail Media reports that Berkeley County, West Virginia Republican candidate John Wayne Orem was arrested Tuesday and charged with heroin possession. Orem was running for sheriff.
According to the report, Orem was taken into custody after being found lying unresponsive on his bathroom floor by paramedics. It was the second time he had overdosed in two days. They had also responded to Orem’s house on Monday evening when they administered Narcan to Orem. Narcan is a drug used to block the effects of narcotics in cases of overdose.
In his report, West Virginia State Police Cpl. M.D. Gillmore said that a cotton ball found in a spoon in Orem’s bathroom tested positive for heroin. The spoon had burn marks and there was a white substance visible on the surface. Police also found an empty plastic bag similar to the type used by drug dealers as well as a shoelace near where Orem was lying.
47-year-old Orem, a former Martinsburg, West Virginia police officer, was charged with one count of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and was released on $5,000 secured bond. According to the Herald-Mail Media report, he offered little comment about his arrest, but with his best effort to channel Donald Trump told reporters that he would offer a “clear and concise” statement explaining what happened later on Tuesday.
“It’s nowhere, nowhere close to what it seems like,” the story quotes Orem as saying.
Orem also promised an explanation on his campaign’s Facebook page, where in recent days he has posted about the arrest of a local drug dealer and a story about people seeking help for opioid abuse.
As of Tuesday evening, Orem had not delivered on his promise to explain the situation. Which is a shame, because it would be very interesting to hear him describe the circumstances that led up to his getting treated for overdoses twice within about a 12-hour period. (Maybe he should take a page out of Trump’s playbook — It was Hillary’s fault!!)
Despite the fact that Orem was running for the job of Berkeley County’s chief law enforcement officer, his arrest doesn’t automatically disqualify him from continuing to seek the job. If he resigns by August 16 Republican officials can replace him on the November ballot.
Orem was chosen as the GOP candidate for sheriff after winning 20.6 percent of the vote in a nine-way race. This situation suggests a little better screening of candidates may be in order for the local Republican party.
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