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Higher Profile for Mitch Daniels Brings Some New Scrutiny of 1970 Drug Arrest

Higher Profile for Mitch Daniels Brings Some New Scrutiny of 1970 Drug Arrest


Thursday, Politico.com ran a glowing profile of Mitch Daniels and his chances should he decide to run for President. Now, the same website is also running a story that recounts a Daniels arrest in 1970. It spells out the details that led then-Princeton student Mitch Daniels to pay a $350 fine for an infraction tied to marijuana possession.

IUPUI political scientist Margaret Ferguson says it's part of what comes with national exposure.

"The chances of some new story coming up are pretty small at this point, I think," she says, "but it's a higher level of scrutiny, a higher office brings higher levels of expectation."

The marijuana story is well known in Indiana political circles. It was widely reported when Daniels first ran for governor in 2004. Democrats tried to make it an issue.


Though Daniels is often knocked as a dull numbers guy, his past is actually among the most colorful of any Republican contender's, beginning with the surprisingly little-known fact that he was arrested and jailed in a drug sting operation that centered on his Princeton University dorm room.

According to campus newspaper reports supplied by the university, Daniels and two other students were swept up in a five-month joint investigation between New Jersey state police and local police that culminated in the May 14th, 1970 raid on Daniels' shared room at111 Cuyler Hall.

Daniels and the two other students were initially charged with possession of marijuana, LSD and prescription drugs without a prescription and with "maintaining a common nuisance by maintaining a place for the sale of narcotics."

A local detective testified that police had seized "enough marijuana to fill two size 12 shoe boxes and quantities of prescription drugs were found in the room," according to a dispatch in the Daily Princetonian, whose archives aren't available online for that year.

The undercover state police officer involved in the sting visited Daniels' room "eight or nine times" and "observed narcotics paraphernalia, saw marijuana and hashish being used, and purchased marijuana prescription drugs and LSD."

Daniels was never implicated in selling the drugs, and has never hidden the incident. During his 2004 run for governor, a former roommate told the Indianapolis Star that Daniels "had nothing to do" with selling drugs, saying "I was busted." The roommate went on to say he was no fan of then-President Bush and would have gladly offered unflattering information about a GOP candidate if he'd had it.

Read the rest of Ben Smith's report here.

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