Bill Johnson, a GOP candidate for governor in 2010 and a former member of current governor Bob Riley's cabinet, recently said that Riley's 2002 campaign received millions of dollars from Mississippi Choctaw gambling interests, which were represented by Jack Abramoff. Johnson announced last week that he had received several letters he considered death threats. The Montgomery Advertiser reported over the weekend that Johnson still is receiving harassing mail.
To others who have exposed Republican wrongdoing in Alabama, including your humble blogger, the threats directed Johnson's way are no surprise.
Just ask Alabama attorney Jill Simpson, a former Republican operative who revealed a GOP conspiracy to initiate a political prosecution against former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. In the weeks and months after her revelations, Simpson experienced a mysterious house fire and saw her vehicle run off the road.
I've called the GOP tactics financial terrorism. And I've experienced them personally. I've received more threatening anonymous comments on my blog than I can count. And they have not been idle threats.
After a February 2008 post about connections between U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and Alabama GOP political consultant Dax Swatek, we received an anonymous comment: "Nut case, yours is comong (sic)."
After an April 2008 post, we received an anonymous comment claiming that I was blogging at work, and my employer, UAB, needed to be notified. On the date in question, I was taking a vacation day, so I was not blogging at work--then or any other time.
Roughly a month later, I was fired at UAB, after 19 years on the job, amid vague allegations that I was blogging at work. For the record, UAB's own IT expert testified at my grievance hearing that those allegations were not true. But did someone with GOP political ties get in the ears of UAB leaders and pressure them to unlawfully fire me? Sure looks that way. And evidence suggests it was all because I was writing a blog that was critical of the Bush Justice Department and it's handling of various political prosecutions, including the Siegelman case.
Jill Simpson has a pretty good idea of what Bill Johnson is experiencing. Says Simpson:
"I am a little worried about Bill Johnson. He bravely spoke out about Alabama Republican corruption and now has received a death threat. I know what that is like. It is my belief that the DOJ should give him and others protection from this gang of thugs, but as of yet, have not done so. . . .
"I take the threat to him very seriously and hope law enforcement does as well. I once was proud to be a Republican, but these actions sadden me. Then again, you only have to look at the current leadership to understand these are thugs, not Republicans."