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Leaked Audio: Clinton Talks Drug Abuse in Home of Convicted Coke Dealer

Clinton wants to send copies of ‘Hard Choices’ to each Republican candidate

AP
• October 2, 2015 12:00 pm

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While appearing at a fundraiser hosted by a convicted drug dealer who was known as "the Pharmacist," Hillary Clinton spoke on the urgency of addressing drug abuse problems in the United States and also the need to reform the criminal justice system.

"I have to tell you, I didn’t expect to be talking about [substance abuse] in my presidential campaign," Clinton said in private remarks at a fundraiser in New York last week. "In 2013, we had more deaths by overdoses than we did with car accidents."

"I am now a real believer that we can’t just walk away from this, we have 23 million people who are addicted," she said.

Drug addiction was an interesting topic for Clinton to cover that night: her host, John Zaccaro, was convicted on felony drug charges after he sold cocaine to an undercover cop in Vermont.

Although Zaccaro, the son of the former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, was a student at Middlebury College, he was no small-time drug dealer.

He was known on campus as "the Pharmacist," according to police. The search of his house found multiple electric scales in addition to other equipment commonly used by drug dealers. When the undercover police officer went to Zaccaro’s home and asked him for cocaine, he presented the officer a tray that had about fifteen bags prepared in quarter gram, half gram, or gram designations.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether the Zaccaro residence was the appropriate venue for her drug abuse discussion.

Clinton also said during her remarks that the criminal justice system must be reformed—a position that likely also hit close to home for Zaccaro.

Clinton complained early on in her campaign that the United States had an "out-of-balance" criminal justice system and that African-American men are too often "sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts."

There is no better illustration of Clinton’s complaint than Zaccaro, who came away from his conviction with only a four-month sentence that he served from a luxury apartment. He did not serve the full four months of house arrest due to good behavior.

Political heavyweights came to Zaccaro’s defense. The judge that sentenced him received many letters in support of Zaccaro from politically connected friends of his mother, including one from Walter Mondale, with whom his mother had shared the Democratic presidential ticket in 1984.

The preferential treatment afforded to Zaccaro was such an outrage that Vermont’s Democratic governor called for a review of the system that allowed Zaccaro to escape punishment for the major drug charge. The governor would eventually propose that drug dealers be excluded from the house arrest program, arguing that Vermont has "to send a very strong message to drug dealers."

The proposal likely would have been celebrated by Clinton at the time. As first lady, Clinton called for "more and tougher prison sentences" and the creation of more prisons.

Clinton’s private remarks during the fundraiser at Zaccaro’s Greenwich Village home amounted to a rushed laundry list of issues she would tackle as president. Clinton said she plans to take on the NRA and create a national infrastructure bank modeled after the Clinton Global Initiative.

Clinton also floated the idea of sending a copy of her book, Hard Choices, to each of the Republican candidates for president so that they could read about her accomplishments as secretary of state.

"I’m thinking about sending a copy of my book about my four years as secretary of state called Hard Choices to all the Republican candidates," Clinton said. "They are always saying things, ‘Well, I don’t know what she did.’"

"Clearly they are just not very well-read or well-prepared to talk about foreign policy, as we all know," Clinton said to cheers in the crowd.

One of these prospective recipients of her memoir, Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) has been praised in recent days for predicting how Vladimir Putin and Russia would act in Syria. Clinton, on the other hand, has been criticized for her failed attempt to "reset" relations with Russia as secretary of state.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to an inquiry into whether sending Hard Choices to each Republican candidate was actually being considered.

The 15 additional sales would not hurt. The book, which was largely a work of self-plagiarism, failed to rise up the top seller lists despite the $14 million advance paid to Clinton.

Published under: 2016 Election, Drugs, Hillary Clinton