Yep, the onetime Republican Speaker of the House in Michigan, Rick Johnson, has admitted to accepting bribes from various special interests who were looking to obtain licenses to supply medical marijuana to citizens of his State. Here’s something from CNN on the scandal:
So Johnson was serving as head of the State’s medical marijuana licensing board at the time? Does that mean anybody seeking a license to dispense medical pot had to obtain his approval?
Sounds like an invitation for corruption. In this instance, the total amount of bribes received was $110,000. That’s just to Johnson; other political and business figures were also involved. Including a couple of registered lobbyists. That’s a profession I’ve heard described as the political equivalent of YouTube influencers,
The former Speaker has now agreed to full cooperation with investigators. His incentive: If all goes according to plan, he gets reduced time behind bars. There’ll still be a stiff fine to pay (max of $250K), but it’s still better than a full 10 years of incarceration.
The investigation itself lasted five long years. Right up to the line where it bumps against the statute of limitations for this type of criminal behavior. Turns out law enforcement sniffed it out early on, but needed more time to assemble the required evidence. Given the political importance of Johnson and others involved, it must have taken investigators a while to find reliable sources. The pleas entered here mark the end of one long, winding trail.
Everyone involved seems to expect further charges to emerge, against other defendants for similar activities involving the sale of political influence. As far as Johnson’s involvement, prosecutors have agreed to forgo filing additional charges against him for any other bribes he may have received, provided he’s already informed them of their existence.
What a guy, huh? “This whole thing makes me sick,” admits an unidentified voter. “We’re supposed to be able to trust our leaders, aren’t we?” Not this leader, apparently. He was looking out for Number One, and in this case, the citizens of Michigan were not foremost in his thinking.
Johnson comes from the village of LeRoy, population 256, in Osceola County in the northern part of the State. It’s one of those rural areas described in vacation brochures as ‘picturesque’. I can’t help wondering how the rest of LeRoy’s residents now feel about having elected him.
By the way, the medical marijuana licensing board that Johnson headed up? That’s no more. It’s been replaced a statewide cannabis regulatory authority, since 2019, when voters legalized recreational use of marijuana in Michigan.