March 5: Scott Gottlieb resigns as FDA chief
Trump administration appointee Scott Gottlieb resigned as the head of the Food and Drug Administration. Gottlieb garnered bipartisan support for his strict regulatory legislation against tobacco and e-cigarettes, as well as his attempts to “speed up approval times for cheap generic medicines to increase competition and bring down drug prices,” according to The New York Times. The White House has supported Gottlieb’s efforts as FDA chief and did not ask him to resign. Despite Gottlieb’s apparent concerns about the opioid epidemic, in November of 2018 the FDA approved the drug Dsuvia—a new fentanyl painkiller “five to ten times more powerful than pharmaceutical fentanyl,” according to The Washington Post.
March 6: Wheeler endorses fair arrests of right-wing agitators
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler acknowledged a disparity in arrests between left-wing and right-wing protestors. Following complaints of unfair treatment, Wheeler echoed earlier calls for the District Attorney to have a heavier hand in arresting right-wing agitators at events. Police and prosecutors told a mayoral representative they “couldn’t arrest or indict people involved in mutual combat”—a term for a consensual fight—according to Willamette Week, despite Oregon law officially banning any type of fighting. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office told Wheeler right-wing agitators involved in an incident recorded in October 2018 could face criminal prosecution, but a lack of victim cooperation has held back prosecution efforts.
March 8: Political action committee settles uncounted votes from midterm election
On Friday, the directors of Defend Oregon—a union-backed political action committee—agreed to disclose who handles ballots after 97 voters were disenfranchised during the 2018 midterm election. On Nov. 6, 2018, Defend Oregon failed to properly submit the ballots and was fined $94,750 for elections violations, according to Portland Tribune. The fine is to be reduced if Defend Oregon complies with newly enforced standards in handling ballots. In response to the incident, the Oregon Elections Division said, “the harm of not having a ballot counted…is more severe than any other violation of election law.”
March 8: Manafort sentenced to 47 months in jail
A judge widely perceived to be sympathetic to Paul Manafort handed the former Trump campaign chairman a sentence of nearly four years out of a possible 19-year prison sentence related to eight felony counts during a sentencing hearing. “[Manafort] is not before this court for anything having to do with collusion with the Russian government to influence this election,” Judge T.S. Ellis III said, according to The New York Times. Manafort will be sentenced for two additional counts of conspiracy directly related to Russian interference, facing a possible consecutive sentence of up to 10 years.