Rogers ‘disappointed’ with Paul’s stand on drug abuse funding

Lexington (Ky.) Herald-LeaderOctober 16, 2010 

SOMERSET, Ky. — U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers said Saturday he was disappointed that Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul had not expressed support for a task force Rogers created to fight drugs in his district, where substance abuse has been described as an epidemic.

The agency, called Operation UNITE, was started in 2003 by Rogers, a Republican who has represented the 5th District in Eastern and Southern Kentucky for three decades.

The task force gets most of its money from federal sources.

Earlier in the campaign, Paul did not directly answer a local official’s question on whether he supported Operation UNITE, but said he would “rather see drug abuse and dependency treated and paid for at the local level.”

More recently, a county sheriff said Paul pledged not to try to cut the program’s funding, but Paul’s campaign did not confirm that to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

At a Republican campaign event in Somerset Saturday, Rogers said he agrees with Paul on many things, but not UNITE.

“We differ on that issue, obviously, a bunch,” Rogers said.

He will try to explain to Paul how important Operation UNITE is in fighting drug abuse in Eastern and Southern Kentucky, he said.

“He’s one I’ll have to make a sales pitch to,” Rogers said.

Rogers’ district includes some of the most economically disadvantaged counties in the nation. It faces a tide of drug abuse — particularly involving prescription pills — that fuels crime and drives up overdose deaths.

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