National drug control policy director Bob Martinez used his office stationery and an aide on the government payroll to retrieve refunds from his unsuccessful Florida gubernatorial race and send them to Republican Party officials in Florida, his office said Thursday.
William Smith, the director's recently fired acting chief of staff, said the activities "didn't smell exactly right to me," although he didn't know if there was any illegality involved.Martinez acknowledged some wrongdoing in his use of government stationery. But he contended there were no other violations, as this concerned obtaining refunds, not soliciting campaign funds.
The Washington Post broke the story in Thursday's editions. It cited Florida campaign records and internal drug policy office documents and said the effort involved $63,644 due to Martinez from television stations found to have overcharged his campaign.
Ben Banta, spokesman for the drug policy office, said he could not confirm the $63,644 figure, but that no one in the office was disputing the amount.
Martinez said in a statement that he gave the refunded money both to Republican Party officials in Florida to help the Bush-Quayle re-election campaign, and to Operation PAR, a non-profit drug treatment center in Tampa, Fla.
The office of White House counsel C. Boyden Gray said Martinez should not have used Office of National Drug Control Policy stationery last fall to seek to have the refunds from his 1990 campaign sent to him at the Executive Office of the President, Banta said.
That action, Gray's office found, violated accepted legal principles that federal property should not be used for a non-governmental purpose.
"His office advised me that there has been no violation of law," Martinez said in a statement today. "However, his office did conclude, and I agreed, that the use of agency stationery to send the letters in connection with this matter was not proper."