David Murray (ONDCP)

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Dr. David Murray holds the title of chief scientist at the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). In that role, he has testified against legalizing medical marijuana.

Before joining ONDCP, Murray was the director of the Statistical Assessment Service, a conservative think tank. He has also been affiliated with other conservative think tanks including the Heritage Foundation and the Independence Institute.


Prior to assuming the directorship of STATS, Murray was an assistant professor of anthropology at Brandeis University. He subsequently went to work as a "Bradley Scholar" at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, where he won the favor of former Reagan Education Secretary William J. Bennett by writing an article for the foundation's Policy Review. Titled "Poor, Suffering Bastards," it argued that government welfare programs are undermining the foundations of western civilization by encouraging women to have babies out of wedlock. "America is becoming a nation of bastards," Murray wrote. "When American society experiments with ever-higher numbers of illegitimacies and single adults, we risk being crushed by our own roof. ... Our future depends on stopping welfare from continuing to subsidize illegitimacy."[1]

Murray also editorialized in favor of the religious right, calling it a movement of "Americans who dare to affirm individual merit, hard work, faith and personal responsibility in the political arena ... America's liberal elites are at war, not with the religious right per se, but with the cultural tradition it represents. ... They honestly believe Western culture is evil, responsible for war, racism, homophobia, sexism, social injustice and centuries of human cruelty. They would rather see America's moral order -- its customs, habits, values and beliefs --- reoriented toward something a little more 'progressive,' such as state socialism."[2]

In 1994, Murray moved from the Heritage Foundation to the Independence Institute, another right-wing think tank located in Golden, Colorado, where he took up the defense of The Bell Curve, the controversial book by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray (no relation). David Murray rejected accusations that the book was racist, argued that it "brilliantly put a contradiction in American life out on the table where it can't be ignored," and called for an end to affirmative action.[3]

In 1996, Murray used the murder of a 13-year-old boy as a pretext to rail against the "liberal Hollywood elite," asking, "Where's Whoopi Goldberg and Ed Asner and maybe Norman Mailer? Why aren't they here, hitting this hard, pointing out the miscarriage of justice? ... They're always there to protest when some butcher on Death Row is facing the chair. Always there to denounce the system, demand justice. Disinterested 'civil libertarians,' serving the underdog. ... Ed? Whoopi? You got an answer for this, or are you busy preparing your next rally against capital punishment? ... Why don't you go home, please, and shut up."[4]


  1. David Murray, "Poor, Suffering Bastards," Policy Review, Spring 1994.
  2. David Murray, "'Liberal Elites' Are at War with U.S. Tradition of Moral Values," Buffalo News (New York), October 9, 1994, p. 9.
  3. Michelle Mahoney, "The Bell Curve: Skip Race Findings," Denver Post, November 3, 1994, p. E-01.
  4. Jeff Jacoby, "A killer lives; a child dies," Boston Globe, January 12, 1996, p. 17.