Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Star Tribune still on the Johnson story

Posted by Craig Westover | 4:57 PM |  

House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, spent about 20 minutes with Rosenbaum and O’Connell today on AM1500 KSTP talking about a number of issues. The first topic was the Dean Johnson controversy. Host Ron Rosenbaum summarized events and said (I’m paraphrasing), “So it seems like we don’t know what’s true [whether or not justices talked about the same-sex marriage law to Dean Johnson], and we’re not going to find out."

Sviggum gave a nervous laugh and said “Yes.”

The general consensus is the Johnson story has run its course. Nobody cares who said what to whom, and nobody is particularly concerned that nobody else cares. Pat Doyle of the Strib may be an exception.

Doyle bothered to do a follow-up to the Ethics Committee hearing, writing about two members of the committee, Tom Neuville, R-Northfield, and Wes Skoglund, DFL-Minneapolis, both of whom believe that Johnson’s comments about talking with members of the court are “plausible.”

In the recording of the ethics committee hearing made public on Friday, Johnson’s attorney Ellen Sampson stated that Johnson had three meetings in his office with a justice present in which gar rights was discussed in general. Witnesses were present. She said Johnson also had two less formal discussion with a witness present on one of those occasions.

"I think it is possible he had a meeting and the topic came up," Neuville is quoted by Doyle. "If push had come to shove, I think [Johnson] would have had witnesses. I didn't sense he was gaming or bluffing."

I would hope he wasn‘t bluffing; Johnson and his attorney were under oath. Doyle also writes --
During the closed session, Neuville talked about a predicament that he said the ethics panel faced if it pushed ahead with the inquiry and tried to determine who was telling the truth.

"If we are all dedicated to trying to protect the integrity of the Senate, it's going to be hard to do if we start asking Supreme Court justices to come in here and ask them to basically say they violated their oath by making those statements," he said.

While Johnson has most recently talked of having a conversation about the marriage law with a single justice, his attorney told the committee in the closed session that there were conversations between Johnson and more than one justice.
Here in a news article is what I tried to convey in my Pioneer Press column today. The truth is just not that important. If it has any importance, it’s up to somebody else to pursue it. This story cannot have a happy ending -- somebody is lying.

Nobody is interested in pursuing the truth. Okay. But let’s at least be honest about that.