Rosalind Helderman just reported on The Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog that Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) had his American Express Card number stolen and that it was used in California to buy, of all things, $225 worth of medical marijuana! The senator told Helderman it appears as if the number was lifted during a visit to a Northern Virginia restaurant because two unnamed N.Va. legislators also were victimized. The identity theft came to Senator Saslaw's attention in March and he quickly notified the Virginia State Police who, in turn, notified the California Highway Patrol. However, the two suspected thieves are still on the loose, and believed to be in the Sacramento area. Not only did they buy the pot, they've actively tried to get new credit cards in the senator's name.
The story came to light after Senator Saslaw gave an interview, at the request of California authorities, to a Sacramento radio station yesterday. The rest of the Golden State media picked up on it (ABC News10) and since then the alarms have gone off at national media outlets, including Fox News. Probably not the way the senator wished to gain notoriety, and we sympathize with him and the other two victimized lawmakers. Identity theft not only is an unpleasant experience, it can be ruinous to your life if not detected in time.
While the fact that marijuana was purchased with a high-ranking elected official's stolen credit card number may sound humorous to some, the suspects probably had a practical purpose in mind. It is California after all. Not only is life a little loose out there, but with its economy in its own depression, perhaps we'll learn this was just an exercise in creative commerce — rather than medical or even "recreational" use, we suspect the the thieves will try to flip the pot on the street. Criminals need to eat, too, during tough times, and smoking the weed will only make them hungrier.