Solicitor Dan Johnson, chief law enforcement official in two Midlands counties, is out of a job, dethroned by a Columbia lawyer, Byron Gipson, who has never held public office. Just weeks ago, Johnson was seemingly a lock to win the Democratic primary and faced no Republican opposition.
But man—life comes at you fast.
First, Johnson was accused of living beyond the means of his $141,000-plus salary, allegedly using taxpayer money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included purported business trips everywhere from ritzy U.S. locales to the Galapagos Islands.
Bermuda. Bahama. Come on, pretty mama.
An outside auditor is looking into all that.
So is the State Law Enforcement Division and the FBI.
Then, two women who used to work for Johnson, both attorneys, came forward (one remained anonymous) with sexual harassment allegations.
One of them, The State newspaper wrote, provided text messages Johnson sent her in 2012: “I want to see u sweetie.” “U r so hot.” In an interview with a news outlet, Johnson did not deny sending the messages but said that looking back, he wished he’d picked up the phone instead.
Another text, to the other woman, read: “I wanted u to go to Spain with me.”
Key Largo. Montego. Baby, why don’t we go…
Finally, last week, Columbia attorney and state Rep. Todd Rutherford called on Johnson to release the results of the ongoing audit prior to the primary or drop out. Johnson responded by accusing Rutherford of sleeping with his (Johnson’s) wife while Johnson was serving in Iraq.
Rutherford has threatened litigation for defamation.
The last few months have been a fast and furious fiasco at the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, but it all seems to be winding down now. The race wasn’t even close, and Gipson, who also serves on the Supreme Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness (Note: I just had an epiphany. This campaign must be the reason Gipson didn’t return a message seeking comment for our Pg. 1 story), has promised to restore integrity to the office.
As for Johnson, who knows what’s next. “It is what it is,” he told reporters after his election loss.
Maybe a vacation to recharge and regroup. The Galapagos Islands are nice, this Sidebar reporter hears, but there’s a place off the Florida Keys, a place called Kokomo that might also work.
That’s where you want to go to get away from it all.