US Marijuana Party

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Riley aide defends his past stands on pot, taxes

Montgomery Advertiser, AL
By Bob Johnson
The Associated Press

Bill Johnson says don't believe everything you read or hear about his colorful adventures as a world traveler, his views on the Taliban or taxes, or his controversial run as a Libertarian for the U.S. Senate in Missouri.

But when Johnson took leave as a member of Gov. Bob Riley's Cabinet this week to become a top Riley re-election campaign official, the move brought new attention to what the 47-year-old Johnson did and said before settling in as an affable Alabama Republican in Montgomery.

In an interview Friday with The Associated Press, Johnson said he was touting the Libertarian Party line when he took a stand favoring legalizing marijuana and prostitution during the 1994 Missouri race. And he said he paid all back taxes a decade ago after going 14 years without filing a federal tax return.

He was living in Springfield, Mo., in 1994 when he ran for the U.S. Senate as a Libertarian, finishing third in a race won by former two-term Gov. John Ashcroft. Johnson said his primary campaign issue in that race was campaign finance reform. But the part of that race that he still finds himself defending were his statements about legalizing marijuana and prostitution and admitting he had not paid federal taxes in 14 years.

Johnson said he was then and still is opposed to prostitution and drug use, but following the Libertarian platform "I just thought there were better ways to attack the problem than through the legal system." He said he did not campaign on those issues and mostly in campaign speeches talked about campaign finance reform and welfare reform.


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