Paul Newman, Corporation Commission Candidate, Reportedly Toked Up in '04

By Ray Stern

A Border Patrol checkpoint nailed Paul Newman, an Arizona Corporation Commission candidate and current Cochise County Supervisor, for driving with pot residue in his county car four years ago.

According to the article by Arizona's one-man news service, Howard Fischer, a report by Border Patrol agent Joe Navarro states that Newman drove his government-issued Ford Crown Victoria into a temporary checkpoint set up on September 15, 2004 on Highway 90 between Sierra Vista and Benson. A drug-sniffing dog at the checkpoint apparently knew right away Newman was, like the song says, ridin' dirty.

From Fischer's article:

Newman eventually was directed into a secondary inspection area. "Newman was visibly shaking, breathing rapidly, and was obviously nervous," Navarro wrote about his demeanor after he got out of the vehicle. The agent said the dog entered the vehicle on its own and alerted on the ash tray in the center of the dashboard. "I looked in the ashtray and saw ashes, small pieces of burnt rolling paper, and some marijuana residue," Navarro said. The agent said he got out of the car and informed Newman of what he had found. "He again stated that he was late for a meeting and appeared anxious to leave the checkpoint," telling the agent at that point he was a county supervisor, Navarro wrote. The agent said he then informed a superior. According to Navarro, Newman told another agent that he had smoked some marijuana in the vehicle "but did not state when."

Newman, an attorney and former Democratic state representative, is one of six people running for three open seats on the corporation commission. He didn't want to elaborate on the incident when contacted by Fischer, saying it "is a chapter in my life that I consider fully closed."

Really, what's the big deal: Governor Janet Napolitano, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, are all on the record as having inhaled. But there is a difference: Newman can't claim this was some youthful indiscretion.

And as a resident of Bisbee, he probably should have known to clean out his car before cruising down Highway 90, a prime smuggling route just north of the international border on which the Border Patrol often sets up checkpoints. He was lucky he didn't get prosecuted for the infraction. As New Times reported in March, an agreement between the Yuma County Sheriff's Office and the Border Patrol ensures people caught with marijuana at checkpoints on eastbound Interstate 8 and Highway 95 near Yuma will face legal action.

This corporation commission election is shaping up to be a bonanza for pothead voters: Another democratic candidate for the commission, Sam George, helped promote two successful pro-marijuana ballot initiatives in Arizona in the late 1990s. Back then, he was known as Sam Vagenas, but he changed his name after being linked to a scandal in the 2002 governor's race.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern