Taxpayer dollars


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.

At the same time prison guards and others were left hanging by the shutdown, 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. Tax dollars should be used to pay prison guards’ salaries, not to support Johnson’s political campaign. It’s no wonder congress’ approval rating is so low.

Another example of 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. Taxpayers pay for his one-sided outreach. One rule surrounding this self-serving outreach to constituents is, these mail pieces cannot go out less than 90 days before an election – which would be Aug. 6, 2014. Two pieces of mail were received from Johnson after this date – one on Aug. 12 and the other on Aug. 13. One was on senior issues and one saying Johnson has an “A” from the NRA. I cannot figure out why someone who claims to be a fiscal conservative would spend taxpayer money on campaign materials just because Congress allows it.

Johnson’s campaign’s 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 or Congress itself.

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

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 Johnson to seven debates in the 18-county 6th Congressional District, 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 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

Democratic candidate for Ohio’s 6th Congressional District