Kellyanne Conway Has Zero Experience In Drug Policy But Is Running the White House Opioid Response

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the appointment “a very significant commitment” from the Trump administration.

White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayTom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP

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Kellyanne Conway is spearheading the Trump Administration’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a press conference Wednesday. 

Conway will “coordinate and lead the effort from the White House,” according to Sessions. “I think her appointment represents a very significant commitment from the president and his White House team.”

Conway has “zero background” on drug policy, says Keith Humphreys, a Stanford psychiatry professor and former Obama drug policy advisor, adding that it’s unclear what this position entails. The White House has reportedly clarified that Sessions was simply acknowledging a role Conway was already playing in the administration’s response to the epidemic, according to Politico reporters.

Trump has yet to install a drug czar, or the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which typically leads the White House’s drug policy efforts. Earlier this fall, Trump nominated Rep. Tom Marino (R-Penn.) to the position, but Marino withdrew from consideration after Mother Jones and other outlets reported on Marino’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry and his track record sponsoring legislation that weakened the Drug Enforcement Agency. Last month, Trump declared the opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency, falling short of the national state of emergency status that would open up federal disaster funding.

Conway seems to share Trump’s reluctance to allocate significant funding to combat the opioid epidemic. In June, she made headlines when she told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos “pouring money into the problem is not the only answer.”

Solving the opioid epidemic, she declared, “takes a four-letter word called ‘will.'”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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