Orrin Hatch Helps Coke Offender Get Pardon (in UAE)

It turns out that the pardon of hip-hop producer Dallas Austin on drug charges in Dubai was the result of personal lobbying by Orrin Hatch, the GOP senator from Utah not known for his sympathy for recreational drug users:

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a musician in his own right, helped secure the release of Atlanta R&B producer Dallas Austin from a United Arab Emirates jail after a drug conviction, the senator’s office confirmed Saturday.

In a statement released through his staff, the conservative Republican said he was contacted by Austin’s attorneys, then called the ambassador and UAE consul in Washington on Austin’s behalf.

A Grammy winner who has produced hits for Madonna, Pink and TLC, Austin was arrested May 19 and convicted of drug possession for bringing 1.26 grams of cocaine into the UAE city of Dubai.

On Tuesday a court sentenced him to four years in jail and said Austin, 34, should be deported after serving the term. Hours later, Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum pardoned and released Austin. …

In his statement, Hatch said he was “grateful to the leaders of Dubai for agreeing to provide a workable and compassionate solution for this situation.”

He also said he was confident Austin “will learn from this experience.”

Perhaps the next time Hatch talks to President Bush, he might suggest similar leniency for the tens of thousands of non-violent drug offenders in federal prison in this country, but I won’t be holding my breath.

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Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi. He began writing for OTB in June 2006. Follow him on Twitter @lordsutch.