Former Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson was accused on Tuesday of taking bribes from marijuana businesses as chairman of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board, where the businesses first started.
He faces up to ten years in prison.
Rick Johnson was the chair of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board (MMLB) between May 2017 and April 2019. In this position, he prepared himself to receive financial payments from lobbyists (another scourge of our democracy by channeling huge corporate funds to the influence of citizens, who should be “represented”).
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Johnson, who was influential in Michigan for many years as the Republican speaker of the House, pleaded guilty to taking $110,000 in bribes over a two-year period.
The government Filling the release He explained the plan, “Brian Pierce and Vincent Brown as Philip Alan Brown Counsel, LLC and Michigan Manufacturing Counselors, LLC, were lobbyists acting on behalf of businesses and individuals seeking work permits from the MMLB. During Johnson’s tenure as chairman of the MMLB, he provided important non-public information to Dalali, Pierce, Brown and others who paid Johnson about pending MMLB rules and procedures and license application matters. The cash payments were made to three businesses, and Johnson received payments from his companies, Philip Alan Brown Consulting, LLC and Michigan Growers Advisors LLC, to conceal payments to Johnson while he was chairman of MMLB. In the year Between July 2018 and April 2019, Johnson voted to revoke the pre-qualification status of one of the brokerage firms and the firm represented by Pearce & Brown, and to grant medical marijuana licenses to those firms.
While this may seem like just one part of the regular crimes committed by politicians, it tells a much larger story. Corruption of our political process.
This particular ongoing corruption investigation is wide-ranging and focused on the large sums of money at stake, influencing policy decisions and the power of lobbyists behind the scenes.
US Attorney Mark Totten made this very point during his indictment: “Public corruption is poison to any democracy.” Those who control the power of government have a sacred duty to serve the people they represent. But when a government official takes a bribe, they defy that duty of care — to their connections, their crooks, and ultimately to themselves.
Political corruption has always existed, but in the post-Trump era, an entire political party has been caught. The Republican Party is currently led by a convicted felon whose motto seems to be “enforce the law as long as we don’t weaponize the opposition.”
Of course, the law should be applied to everyone without fear and favour. This has never happened, but it is suitable and less of a reason to protest.
This month in particular, one dark secret seems to be coming to justice in some form. We hope this will restore government cleanup and moral and ethical goals instead of celebrating criminality and thuggery in our political leaders.
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