Lowell Barron

 Al.com, Lowell Barron's Longtime Assistant Jill Johnson Speaks Out! Bill Britt, Aug. 8, 2013. In April, former State Senator Lowell Barron and his longtime assistant Rhonda Jill Johnson were charged with a total of six counts of ethics law violations and violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act. Barron has spoken out several times through his attorney Joe Espy. Johnson, however, has remained silent until now. “While Lowell was standing on the Ft. Payne Courthouse steps, I was sitting behind bars waiting for my daughter to borrow the money to post my bail,” said Johnson. Johnson says she doesn’t understand why Barron was notified to turn himself in to authorities while police barged into her home without notice and handcuffed her in front of her daughter and 81-year-old mother. According to Johnson, she has never had any problems with the law, yet was treated like a common criminal. However, Barron was treated with kid gloves. Johnson, 47, says she has a lot of time to think about what has happened to her since she first stood before a grand jury almost three years ago. Penniless, unemployed and desperate is the way she describes her life since being dismissed from Barron’s staff in 2010. Johnson said she worked for Barron as district coordinator helping to identify the needs of constituents, and for that work she was paid out of his senate office fund. “He paid me out of the office.... I couldn't get anything out of the campaign funds unless we were working on the campaign.” It is her time working for the campaign and subsequently receiving a $50,000 bonus that is at the heart of the indictment—not her work in the district. According to Johnson, she was called before a grand jury shortly after Barron lost his 2010 senate campaign to Shaddrack McGill. “Oh, Lord, it was horrible...I tried to tell them about all the good work we did, how many we helped...showed them pictures of different community centers and fire departments, schools and teachers [we helped]. I told them I could bring in every single teacher, mayor, supervisor, superintendent...and show them we were working together for the betterment of the community. But, they [prosecutors] didn’t care,” said Johnson. Johnson says she feels like she had been hounded by the Attorney General's office. “They have gone after me because I am weak... I think they want me to have a nervous break down,” said Johnson. “I live in a small town, I can’t get a job, I can't afford an attorney...I had to borrow money on my house just to eat,” Johnson said.

 

 
 
 
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Al.com, Lowell Barron's Longtime Assistant Jill Johnson Speaks Out! Bill Britt, Aug. 8, 2013. In April, former State Senator Lowell Barron and his longtime assistant Rhonda Jill Johnson were charged with a total of six counts of ethics law violations and violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act. Barron has spoken out several times through his attorney Joe Espy. Johnson, however, has remained silent until now. “While Lowell was standing on the Ft. Payne Courthouse steps, I was sitting behind bars waiting for my daughter to borrow the money to post my bail,” said Johnson. Johnson says she doesn’t understand why Barron was notified to turn himself in to authorities while police barged into her home without notice and handcuffed her in front of her daughter and 81-year-old mother. According to Johnson, she has never had any problems with the law, yet was treated like a common criminal. However, Barron was treated with kid gloves. Johnson, 47, says she has a lot of time to think about what has happened to her since she first stood before a grand jury almost three years ago. Penniless, unemployed and desperate is the way she describes her life since being dismissed from Barron’s staff in 2010. Johnson said she worked for Barron as district coordinator helping to identify the needs of constituents, and for that work she was paid out of his senate office fund. “He paid me out of the office.... I couldn't get anything out of the campaign funds unless we were working on the campaign.” It is her time working for the campaign and subsequently receiving a $50,000 bonus that is at the heart of the indictment—not her work in the district. According to Johnson, she was called before a grand jury shortly after Barron lost his 2010 senate campaign to Shaddrack McGill. “Oh, Lord, it was horrible...I tried to tell them about all the good work we did, how many we helped...showed them pictures of different community centers and fire departments, schools and teachers [we helped]. I told them I could bring in every single teacher, mayor, supervisor, superintendent...and show them we were working together for the betterment of the community. But, they [prosecutors] didn’t care,” said Johnson. Johnson says she feels like she had been hounded by the Attorney General's office. “They have gone after me because I am weak... I think they want me to have a nervous break down,” said Johnson. “I live in a small town, I can’t get a job, I can't afford an attorney...I had to borrow money on my house just to eat,” Johnson said.

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Legal Schnauzer, Journalist Felt Caught Between "Rock And Hard Place" During Five-Month Struggle For Freedom, Roger Shuler, April 3, 2014. Why did it take five months for me to be released from jail? I don't know of a simple answer to that question, but a new report from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) shines light on that and other issues. Reporter Michael Rooney wrote the article, titled "Blogger Roger Shuler released after five months in jail." Rooney addresses the challenges I faced in dealing with a court order that, according to commenters from both the left and right, ran contrary to long-established First Amendment law.