PHOENIX — An official forwarded an email against Arizona marijuana legalization to thousands of state employees, but the governor’s office said it didn’t break state rules on propaganda.
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Department of Economic Security Director Tim Jeffries sent the email to his department’s employees Sunday night, The Arizona Republic reported. It was primarily written by radio show host Seth Leibsohn, a member of the group spearheading a campaign against a ballot proposition to legalize recreational marijuana.
The proposition would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, use and carry the drug.
State employees are not allowed to use public resources to influence the outcome of elections, according to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Ryan Anderson, a spokesman for the attorney general.
In an emailed statement, Gov. Doug Ducey’s spokesman said Jeffries was only sharing the email. Ducey is Jeffries’ boss.
“Our office has made it clear that electioneering using state resources is completely unacceptable,” Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said. “Based on our review, we do not believe this email meets that description.”
Leibsohn’s email railed against comments from recreational marijuana advocates implying that marijuana is safer than alcohol. It included a link to an article Leibsohn wrote on a conservative website.
The email had the subject line “Fwd: Alcohol “safer” than marijuana???????” with the comment “You be the judge” added.
In the email Leibsohn wrote that he did his best to debunk the idea that marijuana is safer than alcohol.
“I couldn’t think of a normal magazine or outlet for such a piece, so I just published it myself,” the email read before attaching the link to an article he wrote for a conservative website. “If you like, feel free to use or distribute at will. Thank you for all your work, thoughts, and help.”
DES Communications Director Tasya Peterson tells the Republic that Jeffries sent the email “purely for informational purposes.”
“Senior leadership regularly circulates articles and news stories regarding current events,” she wrote.
This is not the first time Jeffries’ email has come under fire. Earlier this year the state’s attorney general concluded emails Jeffries sent to state employees about his religious pilgrimage to France were “private speech,” and were allowed by law.
Information from: The Arizona Republic