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By Published on .

In an odd dispute even for Washington, Mothers Against Drunk Driving accuses the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the White House drug czar of being part of a "twisted alliance" with alcoholic beverage groups to keep anti-alcohol ads off TV.

MADD President Karolyn Nunnallee is perturbed because both the partnership and Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, are opposing MADD's request that a healthy chunk of the $150 million spent on anti-drug ads by McCaffrey's office be used for anti-alcohol messages.


This week, the House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the appropriation for anti-drug advertising, and some congressmen said they will move to drop an amendment that calls for some of those ad funds to be switched to anti-alcohol ads.

Ms. Nunnallee earlier had said she would like to see half the money spent used to deliver ads about drinking, suggesting that alcoholic beverages serve as a gateway to drugs.

"Representatives of the partnership from the advertising and media industries are more concerned about keeping their major alcohol industry clients happy than keeping our kids safe, health and alive," said Ms. Nunnallee.


Mr. McCaffrey and the partnership argue that the anti-drug ad campaign's aim is stopping kids from using illegal drugs, and that the messages would be diluted if a major portion of the money was diverted.

"We share a concern about the terribly serious problem of underage alcohol use," Mr. McCaffrey said in a statement last week. "However, it would be a serious mistake to simply add alcohol messages. The effectiveness of paid alcohol ads without new funds, staff and research would only hamper the effectiveness of our campaign."

An aide said the anti-drug office is concerned not only about a diminution of the frequency for anti-drug messages but also because drugs are illegal to all while alcohol is only illegal to those under legal age.

The anti-drug office also said that currently the media that are asked to run a free public service ad for every paid ad are given a selection of ads to run and that some are anti-alcohol. In the past year, $8 million worth of anti-alcohol ads have been run as PSAs, the office said.


Ms. Nunnallee said that isn't sufficient, and noted the anti-drug messages present a coordinated media campaign while anti-alcohol ads air without any coordinated planning.

Other industry executives disputed Ms. Nunnallee allegation of "a twisted alliance."

"We are not an illegal drug. We are not heroin or crack cocaine. We resent being lumped in with it," said Ron Serasin, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association.


He said MADD's current leadership is "very vitriolic," noting that his group had worked with MADD's former leadership on past "responsibility" campaigns.

U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, (D., Calif.), who amended the appropriations bill to provide for anti-alcohol ads, has made no suggestion that half the government's anti-drug ads be anti-alcohol, according to an aide.

U.S. Rep. Anne Northrup, (R., Ky.) said she will seek to remove that amendment,

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