Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sen. Dean Johnson talks to Willmar paper

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:35 AM |  

The issue ought to be clearing the integrity of the state Supreme Court, but Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL Willmar, who named names of state Court Justices that he had spoken with and who had told him that the Court would not touch a challenge to the state marriage statute, appears unlikely to clear the reputations of those justices anytime soon.

Judging from a phone interview yesterday with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Johnsons is adopting the best defense is a good offense strategy.
In a telephone interview Wednesday evening, Johnson said he has been disappointed by the actions of some members of the clergy since those meetings.

In his roles as a National Guard officer and a member of the clergy, “two things you have is your integrity and your word,” Johnson said.

“I am disappointed that a colleague in ministry would violate confidentiality,” he said. “You just lose respect for people when they do that.”

In the call Johnson provided his view of the meeting. He explained the conversation he recalls from the January meeting.

“It was a group of pastors having lunch and wanting to talk,” he said.

“I was sitting with my professional colleagues in ministry,” Johnson said. “Little did I know the whole conversation was being taped. … I should have known better.” Johnson said he thinks he knows who taped him, but he can’t prove it.

During the meeting, he said, he tried to point out the difference between a Massachusetts law that courts threw out and the Minnesota law, which is stricter.

He also talked about the casual conversation he’d had with a friend who served on the Supreme Court, he said.
The article also quotes him as saying --
“I’m not trying to influence the court or tamper with the court,” he added. “I couldn’t, and I don’t operate that way.”
One more time -- none of what Johnson says addresses the point. Did the meeting transpire the way Johnson said it did? Well, there is a tape. Was it unethical to tape his conversation? That argument could be made, but that doesn’t excuse his comment or clear the justices he compromised. Should the story have been reported? Absolutely.

The names of justices -- who if Johnson’s New-London comments are accurate, are guilty of an ethical breach -- sooner or later were bound to be exposed. As I reported, Johnson had the opportunity to comment, and initially he declined. When he did issue a statement, it didn’t go far enough to clear the justices whose names he mentioned.

On his final point, the main accusation is not that Johnson tried to tamper with the Court, but that he compromised the integrity of the Court when he brought up private conversations (if indeed they did occur) to support his political position that the Defense of Marriage Amendment is unnecessary.

The West Central Tribune, also reported --
The organizations attacking him are “intent on disrupting the legislative session,” Johnson said. “For me, just their behavior and attitude of discrimination and hate tells me I don’t want to be a part of that, a part of that movement.”
Although I disagree with Johnson’s blanket personal characterization of those supporting the marriage amendment, I, too, do not want to be part of a movement that marginalizes people because of sexual orientation. Nor, however, can I abide a person that compromises the integrity of a friend to make a political point and then hides behind bushes of babble instead of clearing his friend’s name.