It was only after Mike Johnson was elevated to the role of Speaker of the House—second in line to the Presidency—that any real vetting began.
First up, journalists dug up his history of bizarre and troubling ideas.
Next came the news of his 38-(or maybe 40)-year-old Black son—someone he had mostly neglected to mention during his rise to MAGA-stardom.
This week, Johnson's got even more explaining to do. Because after seven years in Congress he contends, in his disclosures to the House Ethics Committee, that he has no assets and no bank account.
“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice
As originally reported by The Daily Beast, in seven years of financial disclosures:
Johnson has listed only one asset: a retirement account. In 2016, he listed a state government Fidelity account valued between $1,000 and $15,000. He transferred those savings to a Thrift Savings plan, a federal program, the following year. Johnson appears to have cashed out the entire account in 2021, because he lists no assets at all on his 2022 form.
Johnson, of course, makes $174,000 a year as a Congressperson. His wife is known to have two income streams from two different employers. He has a house, a mortgage, a personal loan of tens of thousands of dollars—and a recently opened home equity line of credit.
As with the Black son who Johnson is willing to talk about when politically convenient, I expect Johnson will be pressured to admit that he and his wife do, indeed, have bank accounts.
What are they hiding?
As The New Republic reports, several ethics experts are suggesting that:
Johnson is terrible at managing the money he makes and may be in massive debt.
“He owes hundreds of thousands of dollars between a mortgage, personal loan, and home equity line of credit, so where did that money go?” Jordan Libowitz, the communications director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Daily Beast. “If he truly has no bank account and no assets, it raises questions about his personal financial wellbeing.”
He's not, of course, the first Republican whose résumé doesn't hold up to close scrutiny.
This is the party of George Santos, after all.
Johnson's not even the first Republican to have "taken custody" of a child without notifying any official adoption agencies, only to reveal it years later.
Alleged child rapist Matt Gaetz pioneered that.
And Johnson's not the first Republican in the Trump era to have mysterious financial problems that might make him vulnerable to outside influences.
We've been there and seen that with Brett Kavanaugh.
Joining the ranks of Putin's "useful idiots"
Given his skeleton-filled, financially opaque life history, one could easily imagine that Johnson, like Trump and others, could be vulnerable to Russian kompromat.
It doesn't help matters that Johnson's 2018 re-election campaign was partially funded by "tens of thousands of dollars" donated to Louisiana Republicans by three Russians, including an oligarch with close ties to Putin.
Has America's newly minted House Speaker been compromised by the Kremlin? Who knows? But given the way Johnson has been "fawned over" by Russian state media, Putin surely wants us to think he might have been.
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