Monday, July 31, 2006

Bob Riley & Bill Johnson

I have been remiss in covering the latest development in the staffing changes in Gov. Bob Riley's campaign. Of course, in the last week I have been in two meetings in Montgomery, three in Birmingham and had one speaking engagement in Birmingham also, which has made for a very busy girl with little time for blogging.

What has happened in Riley's campaign is that he has appointed Bill Johnson as his grassroots coordinator. What makes that particularly fascinating for me is Mr. Johnson's colorful past and his stances on legalizing drugs and prostitution. He sounds a great deal like a point. You see, Bill Johnson ran as an Independent for Senate against former Atty. General John Ashcroft in Missouri.

He also worked on Bob Riley's campaign for Congress going all the way back to 1996 and worked on his campaign for Governor of Alabama in 2002. In 2005 Riley placed Mr. Johnson in the position of Director of ADECA.

That seems incredibly contradictory because ADECA was responsible for handing out BYRNE Grants which were used to fund drug task forces.

The fact that the following article points out Mr. Johnson refused to pay his taxes for 14 years because he disagreeed with what government did with his money raises the following question.

If you refuse to pay your taxes because you hold a moral opposition to how that money is being spent then why would you take a position handing out government grants to law enforcement to form drug task forces when you say that you also disagree with the drug laws?

Mr. Johnson sounds like a hypocrite of the highest order and a political opportunist to me. Not that any of that is surprising. For any of you thinking that Riley's appointment of this guy as his grassroots coorinator and the media's decision to focus on his drug policy stance is an indication that Riley might wise up and fix the drug laws and prison crisis in this state....think again. This is simply the R's trying to steal back what Republican support I have (which is actually pretty impressive considering all of the things I support). DON'T BUY IT!

Vote Nall Y'all...It's Just Common Sense

Riley moves campaign staffers
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Capital Bureau
MONTGOMERY -- Bill Johnson has left his Cabinet post as head of the Alabama Department of Community and Economic Affairs to become the grass-roots coordinator for Gov. Bob Riley's re-election effort.

Johnson takes over for Don Fisher, who held the title "state team leader" and headed the governor's grass-roots efforts during the Republican primary campaign. Fisher, according to Riley campaign spokesman Josh Blades, remains with the campaign as Johnson's deputy. Blades said Fisher will also coordinate ballot security efforts and the wooing of veterans.

"Don did a fantastic job coordinating the state (grass-roots) team through the primary -- just look at the numbers," said Blades, referring to Riley's near 2-to-1 defeat of ousted state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in the June 6 GOP primary.

Johnson also ran Riley's grass-roots efforts in 2002, eight years after the Spring Hill College graduate's own unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid in Missouri. In that campaign, Johnson ran as an independent, advocating the legalization of drugs and prostitution and disclosing that he had failed to pay federal income taxes for 14 years because he refused to finance an "arrogant, unresponsive and corrupt" government.

He has since served as a Birmingham City Council member.

Johnson became ADECA director in May 2005. He succeeded John Harrison, who became the state banking superintendent.

Riley administration spokesman Jeff Emerson said that Doni Ingram is now acting director of ADECA, a clearinghouse for many federal and state grant programs for community development. Ingram had been assistant director since February. Johnson is officially on unpaid leave until Nov. 16, Emerson said.

Johnson initially linked with Riley in 1995, joining the first congressional campaign of the Ashland businessman who served three terms in Washington, D.C., before winning the governorship.

He ended up as campaign manager of Riley's 1996 campaign and was named chief of staff by the congressman-elect. Johnson ended up resigning, however, after press accounts and public pressure concerning the views he expressed in Missouri during his 1994 campaign. Johnson said in 1996 that he changed his views of the federal government after Republicans won congressional majorities in 1994.

After finishing at Spring Hill, Johnson dropped out of medical school before traveling the world for several years, which included stints as a volunteer medic for the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan and Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

As for his role in the 2006 Riley campaign, Johnson will effectively serve as the boss in the Montgomery office, which is the headquarters of the grass-roots operation, Blades said.

Riley's Birmingham office, Blades said, comprises his fund-raising operation. Riley's daughter, Minda Riley Campbell, often works in the Birmingham office, which is located near the law offices of Riley's son, Rob Riley. The governor's media strategy, meanwhile, is being coordinated by the Washington, D.C.-based Stevens & Schriefer Group, which worked for President Bush in 2004.

Blades said there is no individual with a title such as "campaign manager" or "campaign director." Riley essentially had both in 2002, as does his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, this year.

Asked who's running the governor's re-election effort, Blades responded, "Bob Riley."

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