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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Updated: Johnson criticizes Riley, Byrne

(Contains additional comments from Bill Johnson)

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Johnson is going after his former boss again -- this time on ethics.
Johnson, a Republican who was in the administration of Gov. Bob Riley and worked on his campaigns, criticized Riley's ethics reform package as weak.
"Accountability and ethics reform are certainly needed. My problem with the proposed reform is that it isn't true reform," Johnson said in a release.
Johnson, in an e-mail on Tuesday night, wrote that his main point was that the governor's ethics pledge would only require reporting by public officials on family members in the household while Riley has family that lives outside of the house and that Johnson alleges are making millions from contracts that the governor is involved in. Riley has adamantly denied any member of his family has benefited financially from his time as governor. His spokesman has also said that he was not involved with Jefferson County hiring firms where his son and son-in-law work. His son, Rob Riley, was hired by the sheriff there. His son-in-law works for the Bradley Arant firm, which performs millions of dollars in work for the state, but does not benefit financially, according to the administration.
"Under the governor's 'reform' proposals, they are not 'household' family members and wouldn't be required to report this income," Johnson wrote.
Johnson was among the candidates who signed the Christian Coalition Integrity Pledge, which he said "basically removed the 'household' charade from the governor's reform proposal."
Johnson was the head of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs when it contracted with Bradley Arant for millions of dollars in legal contracts.

This is the third time since Johnson resigned from the administration this summer that he has criticized Riley. He has called the administration out on a $13 million no-bid computer contract and on Riley's work as chief negotiator in Jefferson County because of the appearance of a conflict of interest because of the alleged financial benefit to his family.
Johnson also said in his statement that if fellow Republican candidate Bradley Byrne is going to follow in Riley's footsteps on the reform issue, "Lord help us."
"We will never gain the trust of the people," he said.
Johnson was a member of Riley's cabinet since 2005 as director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and he was the second in command at ADECA before that. He resigned this summer after Riley said he needed to step down if he was going to run for governor. Johnson worked on Riley's campaigns for Congress and governor.


-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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