Johnson who hails from Savannah was co-chair of the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee that dismissed charges against then-House Speaker Glenn Richardson in 2007. Georgia’s Democratic Party had filed an ethics complaint about Richardson based on an allegation that he had an inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist from Atlanta Gas Light in 2006.
The senator, a supporter of Johnson’s candidacy, says that the committee didn’t have any evidence to support the charges against Richardson. What he didn’t say is that the committee didn’t try very hard and if they didn’t know what was going on between the Speaker and a female lobbyist for the Atlanta Gas Light Company, while Richardson was pushing a $300 million pipeline bill that would benefit AGL, they must have been on another planet.
After seeing veteran political reporter Bill Shipp refer to Richardson as “Romeo” about a million times, wouldn’t they have talked to the man and said, “Glenn, we keeping reading this stuff. Is there any truth to the rumor?” If Richardson said, “yes”, the committee should have acted. If he said “no”, they still should have acted and proved Richardson innocent. They did neither. Eventually, the speaker’s ex-wife too care of the matter for us and Richardson resigned.
Now, Eric Johnson wants to be our governor and probably hopes we will forget how the Richardson matter got swept under the carpet. Fat chance. Voters are focused on ethics in Georgia – for awhile, at least – and trying to convince us that the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee acted in our interest and not theirs is going to be a hard hill to climb.
There is an old saying in politics that perception is reality. The perception is that the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee was looking out for one of their own, not for us. I suspect that may be the reality as well.