District deserves better

Published 5:09 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2014

One of the reasons why most Ohioans are fed up with Washington is that too many Members won’t listen to the public. Instead, they spend our money to help their own political campaigns.

Congressman Bill Johnson spends a lot of time talking about wasteful government spending. He even used that issue to justify his vote to shut down the government.

Johnson’s vote to shut down the government had a real impact on people in our area, particularly the federal prison guards at nearby Elkton Federal Correctional Institution, who were required to go to work unsure of when they would be paid.

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At the same time prison guards and others were left hanging by the shutdown, congressman Bill Johnson spent $2,300 of our taxpayer dollars on a scripted telephone town hall meeting.

These aren’t real town hall meetings in which voters get to ask questions of the Congressman — these telephone town halls allow Johnson’s staff to pick who gets to ask questions, shielding him from answering the tough questions.

He failed to walk the talk “that the government should spend less money,” as he spent our hard-earned tax dollars on his self-justifying town hall meeting. $2,300 may not seem like a lot of money in the scheme of the federal budget, but it says a lot about his priority to do anything to stay in office.

Tax dollars should be used to pay prison guards’ salaries, not to support Congressman Johnson’s political campaign. It’s no wonder Congress’s approval rating is so low.

Another example of Congressman Johnson refusing to walk his talk is the overuse of taxpayer funded glossy pieces of mail that look like campaign literature targeted to groups of constituents in the congressional district. We the taxpayer pay for his one-sided outreach.

One rule surrounding this self-serving outreach to constituents is, these mail pieces cannot go out within 90 days of an election, which is Aug. 6. Two pieces of mail were received from Congressman Bill Johnson after this date- one on Aug. 12 and the other on Aug. 13.

One on senior issues and one saying Congressman Johnson has an “A” from the NRA.

I cannot for the life me figure out why someone who claims to be a fiscal conservative would spend taxpayer money on campaign materials just because Congress allows it.

Congressman Johnsons’ campaigns response is “the franking committee in Washington approved it.” I am not sure I know anyone in eastern or southeastern Ohio has faith in congressional oversight of congress itself. I will bring a different standard, one I can justify to the people of this district based on our principles, not on Washington’s judgment.

What makes this self-promotional mailing particularly offensive is that Congressman Johnson continues to disrespect his constituents even further by refusing to accept my challenge to debate in front of them?

If Congressman Johnson wants to talk about the second amendment, that’s fine. I’ve always had an A rating by the NRA and the support of Buckeye Firearms. Let’s have that discussion.

At all times, but especially during a time of such distrust of congress, candidates should be open, available and transparent. That is why I challenged Congressman Bill Johnson to seven debates in the 18 county sixth congressional district.

In the Columbiana, Steubenville, St. Clairsville, Zanesville, Marietta, Ironton and Carrollton areas, representing all seven media markets, so the voters could witness the demeanor and responses of the candidates for congress in a manner that is not scripted or staged, but is real. But Congressman Johnson has refused to agree.

Congressman Johnson has a lot of explaining to do. The voters of this district deserve better. I am again calling on Congressman Johnson to stop hiding behind the taxpayer-funded mail pieces, and scripted town hall meetings and let’s have a real debate and let the voters make an informed decision about the candidate that will best represent their interests in Washington, D.C.


Jennifer Garrison is the Democratic Candidate for Ohio’s Sixth Congressional District. The 6th Congressional District includes all or parts of Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Muskingum, Noble, Scioto, Tuscarawas and Washington Counties.