CINCINNATI -- The man behind a product that can help addicts pass drug tests had a small hand in local politics, the I-Team has uncovered.
Matt Stephens, whose company makes synthetic urine products, contributed $500 to Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley's 2013 campaign.
Stephens' company, Spectrum Labs, produces substances known as "Urine Luck" detoxifying agents, "Absolute Detox" drinks and "Quick Fix" synthetic urine.
Stephens said these substances are only designed to pass tests looking for nicotine products, but a previous I-Team investigation found they had been marketed in the past for passing drug tests -- and some online sellers still market them that way.
Cranley told the I-Team he didn't know about Stephens or his ties to synthetic urine when the contribution was made. Cranley did acknowledge, though, that he had attended a fundraiser that a mutual friend asked Stephens to host.
"I don't even remember meeting him," he said. "I'm sure I did."
Cranley said he doesn't support Stephens' products, and anything that could be used to pass drug tests shouldn't be sold in Cincinnati.
"I don't think it's appropriate that there are devices that allow you to commit fraud and are marketed to be dishonest," he said.
After speaking with the I-Team and learning about its findings, Cranley's campaign donated Stephens' $500 contribution to the Center for Addiction Treatment to help recovering heroin users.
"It is clearly a terrible epidemic...it's a real crisis that the medical community needs to deal with," Cranley said. "We're dealing with the symptoms. The cause is the over-prescription of opiates."
Criminal defense attorney Mark Krumbein said the judges and probation officers he deals with want to see people successfully recover from drug addiction. Cheating the system is the wrong choice, he said.
"They probably could get a break or two and the courts would try and help them get back on track, but if they get caught cheating they could literally end up going back to prison," Krumbein said.
At least 11 states have banned the sale of synthetic urine. In Kentucky, it is illegal to manufacture, market or distribute “any product which is intended to defraud a test designed to detect the presence of alcohol or a controlled substance."
Ohio does not have laws specifically banning the use of synthetic urine to pass drug tests.
"To engage and market a product that's sole purpose is to engage in fraud should be illegal," Cranley said.