• Guilty of embezzling campaign money, Michael King now wants to humanize addiction

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    His passion was politics, until alcohol and gambling consumed the life he wanted to live.

    Now a Seattle man is using his political skill to advocate a new approach to the nationwide substance abuse epidemic.           

    It's a story we covered when things were going wrong for Michael King, now King shows us how he is working to make being better.

    The face of addiction looks a lot like you.

    There are 23 million people in long-term recovery.

    One in three American families are impacted.

    Overdoses now kill more people than traffic accidents.

    “I'm a college educated male in my mid 30's I'm the face of addiction in this country.”

    Seattle's Michael King is Director of Outreach & Engagement for the advocacy group called Facing Addiction.

    It was born last October, on the day of a huge concert for recovering addicts in Washington DC. Its mission is to channel the voices of millions demanding national solutions to the addiction crisis.

    It has even enlisted the singer Macklemore and President Obama.

    “Just talking about this crisis isn't enough,” said the President in his weekly address with recovering addict Macklemore at his side, “We need to get treatment to more people who need it.”

    This story comes to us by way of a chance meeting. I was sitting down on an airplane after the Republican National Convention this summer when a stranger introduced himself to me. He said his name was Michael King and that I had told his story before, and that it was about a crime.

    In 2013 I reported that King embezzled a huge sum from the Democratic campaign to keep control of the state senate, a campaign he was managing.

    In a confession to investigators, King said the amount stolen was up to 300-thousand dollars. And that he took the money because he had a drinking and gambling problem.

    He later plead guilty 8 times--- to 8 counts of first and second degree theft. He was sentenced to 25 months in prison.

    “You know when I was in the heat of addiction I did many things that that harmed a lot of people and harmed a lot of people that I cared very deeply about. Harmed a lot of causes that I cared deeply about,” King said. “There is a career that's gone, a marriage that ended, a house that's no longer owned.”

    And short of the stolen campaign money, Senate Democrats lost their majority to Republicans, who still run the Senate today.

    We met King at Seattle's Recovery Cafe. Where those recovering from addiction help each other.  

    King is now motivated by the people who reached out to him.

    “Gave me the opportunity to find long term recovery and try to help other people and see if we could stop them from having to go through some of the things that me and countless others have gone through.”

    He says addiction must come out of the shadows, “First of all the simple recognition that this is a health issue and you know your loved one who is suffering with active addiction right isn't a bad person who needs to get good. They are a sick person who needs to get well.”

    Politics was Michael King’s Passion, now its replacing punishment with treatment, replacing shame with support.

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