Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari’s proposal Friday to require state legislators and other elected officials to undergo annual drug tests was met with derision from lawmakers.
“If the architect of George W. Bush’s Wall Street bailouts thinks he has any credibility on this or any other legislative issue, then he must be the one smoking something,” said Senate President Pro Tem–elect Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).
Kashkari was guest host of the Mark Larson radio show on KCBQ-AM (1170) in San Diego on Friday when he raised the issue.
“I think we should drug-test the legislators,” he said. “Why don’t we, everybody, every statewide officeholder, and everyone at the Assembly and Senate, why don’t we just have an annual mandatory drug test?”
Kashkari sought to link the proposal to current criminal charges facing four state senators, adding: “Given how many are getting in more and more trouble, mostly Democrats, more and more trouble every week, it seems, I can’t imagine how many would sign up for a voluntary drug test.”
Realizing his proposal would draw a reaction, Kashkari later tweeted: “That sound you hear is heads exploding in Sacramento.”
Capitol officials noted that drug use has not been alleged in any of the cases against lawmakers. Two were charged with public corruption, one was convicted of lying about living in his district and one was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.
Lawmakers saw the drug-testing proposal as a campaign stunt.
“The only thing tripping is Mr. Kashkari’s desperate campaign,” said Rhys Williams, a spokesman for Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).
(Updated at 4:50 pm: Kashkari later told reporters that he was just joking and he is not really serious about seeking drug tests. “We’ve got better things to worry about,” he told reporters at the state Republican convention near LAX on Friday afternoon. He joked that IQ tests for lawmakers might be a better idea.)