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Meet Suzan Delbene (D CAND, WA-08).

I haven’t really been paying attention to this particular race – it’s admittedly one of the few where the Republican incumbent (David Reichert) isn’t quite safe, but then again, it’s a bad year to be a Democratic challenger* – but I got tipped off to what appears to be a bit of a vetting problem with Dave’s challenger (one Suzan-with-a-Z Delbene). And, yes, if I’m able to use the phrase ‘dead of a heroin overdose’ in a completely literal manner then there was in fact a vetting problem.

The story starts with Ms. Delbene, who is a member of the Board of Trustees for Reed College. Oddly, while this information is on the Reed College website, and confirmed here, it does not show up in her official campaign biography.  Which would be very odd, no?  After all, she’s an alumnus; and having that bit of academic respectability would surely be an advantage in a competitive House race.  And it would be… if it were for any college besides Reed.  You see, Reed has a certain reputation:

“When you say Reed, two words often come to mind,” Mr. Diver said. “One is brains. One is drugs.”

Mr. Diver, by the way, is Mr. Colin Diver… President of the college.

Reed College, in other words, is one of those schools: it is arguably one of the most permissive colleges in America when it comes to illegal drug use.  Now, I’m perfectly capable of being hypocritical about underage alcohol consumption and smoking marijuana – I’m a parent now, after all – but we’re not talking booze and pot.  We’re not talking booze, pot, and acid, either.  We’re talking “pot and alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, ‘benzos,’ LSD, DMT, mescaline, MDMA, PCP, ketamine, nitrous oxide, opiates, depressants and psilocybin.”  That’s from the student handbook, by the way – at least according to local paper Williamette Week, which also notes the 71% graduation rate in 2008, and that the dropout rate was mostly drug-related.

And it also noted the first death by heroin overdose suffered by the school in 2008.  It’s unclear whether the victim was or was not listed as a dropout in the school’s graduation rate; but it is clear that said heroin death (which, by the way, took place while Suzan Delbene was a member of the Board of Trustees) did not stop a drug-soaked annual event known as “Renn Fayre,” which has metastasized from a perfectly-harmless Renaissance Fair to, well, a drug-soaked annual event.  They had it again in 2009, and they had it again in 2010… complete with yet another case of death by heroin overdose.

Now, you could make the case that Reed College is cleaning up its act, now that the cops are starting to scream at the President – and Board of Trustees! Don’t forget them! – about how every drug dealer in Oregon considers the school to be a personal ATM.  And I hope that the Reed collegiate community breaks this rather bad, literally killing habit of theirs.  But what I’d like to know is what Suzan Delbene has done to combat the grotesque – yes.  It is grotesque.  People are dead – use of illegal drugs at her alma mater… and responsibility.

And it’d be nice to know why she’s hiding her ongoing connection to Reed College, too.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Red County has similar questions.

PPS: David Reichert for Congress.

*Actually, it’s just a bad year to be a Democrat.

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