Rep. Marino’s Drug Czar Job in Question After Drug Bill

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WILLIAMSPORT -- On Monday afternoon, President Trump addressed a CBS 60 Minutes/Washington Post report that is highly critical of Congressman Tom Marino.

The president said he will be determining if that report about opioid oversight will impact his choice to make Marino the national drug czar.

That report revealed the Republican congressman from Lycoming County sponsored a bill that may have made the opioid epidemic worse. Marino's bill limits the way the nation's drug enforcement agency, or DEA, can stop large shipments of opiates.

Many constituents in Tom Marino's district--which includes a big part of our area--want answers. Staffers at his Washington office said the phones were ringing off the hook after the report aired on 60 Minutes.

Rep. Marino was one of the first Republicans to back Donald Trump in the 2016 election, so after the Washington Post/CBS story criticized him for sponsoring that narcotics bill, Newswatch 16 went out to try to find Congressman Marino to get his response.

As we walked to the home office of Congressman Tom Marino in Williamsport, so did Michael Briel of Williamsport. He saw the news report claiming that a bill cosponsored by Marino last year made it easier to get painkillers, namely, opiates.

"I was pissed," said Briel. "I know people who are involved with it. I know people who died, and it upsets me."

Briel came to Marino's office to talk about the bill that may have contributed to the deadly opioid epidemic that's led to countless deaths, including here in the 10th Congressional District.

"They're making a killing, and people are dying. People are dying. It's not right," Briel added.

Marino was nowhere to be found.

A 60 Minutes and Washington Post investigation found that the four-term congressman is partially responsible for what a former DEA agent claims stripped the agency of its ability to stop suspicious shipments of prescription drugs, opiates that in many cases, wound up on the streets.

The questions over that bill have come fast. It passed without objection from any lawmakers and was signed into law by President Obama.

The report was scathing for Marino, a former prosecutor and current nominee for U.S. drug czar.

Now after the critical news report, Governor Tom Wolf says he doubts Marino can serve as drug czar, and President Trump wants to speak with Marino about the report.

Trump said his administration will be looking closely at Marino's bill and how it came to be, suggesting it could change his mind on Marino's nomination.

"Well, he's a good man. I have not spoken to him, but I will speak to him, and I'll make that determination. And if I think it's one percent negative to what we want to do, I will make a change," President Trump said.

At his office in Williamsport, Lycoming County Coroner Chuck Kiessling came to Marino's defense. Kiessling has been on the forefront of fighting the deadly opioid epidemic and believes the fourth term congressman only meant to help people who need access to medicine. He also believes Marino would make a good drug czar.

"He's seen all aspects of the prosecution side of drug cases, knows what's going on in the community. I think he is very well qualified for that position." Kiessling said.

As for Michael Briel, he left Marino's office without answers. We couldn't find Marino either, not at his office, his home, or by calling his phone.

"I want to talk to him about it. He grew up around the corner from me. He was DA here. He should know better than this."

Briel doesn't plan to give up.

"I think we have to talk to Tom and find out why he sponsored this bill. If it's about money and power, vote him out. Friend or not, I don't care. It's not right."

The report said the drug industry spent more than $100 million lobbying Congress for the bill and that Marino got almost $100,000 for his campaign.

Marino's Washington office told us Monday the congressman was home in his district, but his local office told us Marino was in Washington. Where he actually was remains unclear.


  • i_see_crazy_people

    Why should the DEA be cut off from stopping suspicious shipments of opiates? And what companies were they shipped from?

  • III%

    While people are people are over dosing on heroin and other assorted drugs I’ll be fishing and please don’t bother me or croak in my fishing spot

  • Bill K.

    Do you have to be a practicing attorney or be a member of the bar? If not, I predict Steve Cappelli will step up. That little brewing corrupt cesspool was sitting quietly for the past few years. I’m guessing most forget about his illegal use of the city’s credit card. Not to mention the immoral choices he made (extramarital affairs he tried to hide).

  • disgusted

    Now there’s another problem. Congress has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. You are now being put in a position where you have to fight for pain meds. This includes cancer patients who have just had surgery. This just happened to a friend of mine.
    For all those people that screamed about the drugs, it’s not the Mexicans, it’s your elected Congressmen and the pharmaceutical corporations that screwed you over.
    Wake up people and stop chanting stupid slogans that make you feel good and feel like your part of the crowd. You ain’t in the rich man’s club and you never will be.

  • George W

    This round of partisan attacks was started by The Washington Post in an article that tried to blame the whole opioid crisis on Mariono. Marino’s legislation was to require the government to use a reasonable standard of evidence before stopping commerce by drug companies, instead of allowing them to assume guilt.

    The Left does not really care about helping anyone. They only want the issue..

  • les

    Freaking dirt bag Marino. After watching that news story Sunday night I’m now convinced that our government is beyond corrupt – they’re immoral.
    Vote against ALL incumbents in the next election/s.
    They’re all a bunch of self-serving dirt bags.

  • burtfan16

    Lobbying itself should be deemed illegal. The politicians in this country are supposed represent the people not the corporations. The corporations don’t care about the people in this country they care about the bottom line profits they stand to make or lose.

  • McCracken

    Sure, when I do it it’s called bribery, but when corporations do it it’s called lobbying. I go to jail; corporations get what they want. Just because you call it a different name, doesn’t change the fact that it’s bribery. Seems like a double standard, no?

    • Bill K.

      Just like if I steal a $1.50 candy bar from Wegmans the police will come, throw me to the ground, handcuff me and throw me in jail. The district attorney files charges and I’m put on trial. But if I have a tenant who skips out on two month’s rent stealing $1600 from me well that’s a civil matter! Too bad. Do your own detective work. Hire your own attorney and pay court costs yourself. What’s the difference? Well, Wegmans is a huge corporation. Can’t piss them off! But one guy who’s a landlord out a few bucks? That’s his problem. Who cares about just one guy?

  • Disgusted

    Gee, what a surprise that Marino couldn’t be found for comment…..NOT! Guess his “boss” hasn’t told him what to say yet. When is the last time anyone saw him? We see that woodchuck Phil more often than Marino!

  • CeeMe

    We need universal healthcare, paid for with taxes. That will put an end to some of this BS. As long as “profit” is in the mix, we’ll have problems with healthcare.

    • do

      They pretty much all take money from them. Pharmaceuticals has a huge lobby. Congress is in bed with them. Believe it.

  • troutlover

    Marino is both a thief and a coward! Taking a BIG bribe from the pharmas and now he is hiding from the press and his constituents!! After I saw the 60 Minutes expose on this clown I sent an e-mail to Congressman Barletta and demanded that he censure is good buddy Tommy and also tell Trump to eliminate him from becoming the Drug Czar! As the DEA guys said having Marino AND his worthless bill would destroy stopping the opiate plague! Tom the Turd is killing our kids and he must be removed from office NOW!!

  • Mike Hunt

    Idiots stupid enough to vote for corrupt casino Marino get what they deserve with this waste case, Tom ‘ bought and paid for’:Marino. Marino is a useless, corrupt and incompetent pretender. Getting what you deserve with this bum.

  • Rosemary

    I checked ‘open secrets’ . I could not find anything about contributions from pharmaceutical companies.. but it di should that Casey received a total to date ofim recieving $498,029.00 from pharmaceutical companies…

  • 🤔

    I can’t believe this! I get what his intentions are but when there’s an opioid epidemic you can’t support bring in more pk’s. Yes it is a choice to take them but it just makes them more easily accessible. I won’t call him a drug czar after that move. 👎

  • Sam I Am Green Eggs & Ham

    Sorry people in the end the opioid epidemic falls back to the people taking and using them..stop trying to blame other people for your short coming…

    • CeeMe

      I agree, but gov’t should also protect people with its policies, not line their pockets or cave into money.

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