Editor’s Note: A guest post from state Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City)…
Yesterday, the governor issued a news release in which used taxpayer resources to personally attack me and intentionally misrepresent my positions. Here is what his press office disseminated…
In his letter to legislators requesting the opinion by the Louisiana Attorney General, State Representative Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City) indicated that Gov. Edwards’ executive order raised serious “structural questions under the Louisiana Constitution,” citing language that refers to state “officers” and “political subdivisions.” However, identical language has been included in executive orders by previous administrations that Rep. Johnson praised at the time of their signing.
“Rep. Johnson, it seems, is taking a sudden interest in the constitutionality of language with which he had no objection prior to his current political pursuits,” Gov. Edwards continued. “Discrimination isn’t welcome in Louisiana, but as is the case often, folks running for office seem to forget that we have an obligation to protect all of our citizens. I am not deterred by these actions by Rep. Johnson and the attorney general, and instead am more committed than ever to doing what’s right for the people of Louisiana within the full authority of the Louisiana constitution.”
On previous executive orders that included identical language as Gov. Edwards’ order, Rep. Johnson was complimentary of the previous administration and raised no issues with the language included in both orders:
“‘This issue is imminent,’ he said.” (5/19/15, The Advocate)
“I applaud Governor Jindal for this Executive Order” – (5/19/15, Plaquemine Post South)
State Representative Mike Johnson requested an opinion from the Attorney General’s office regarding Gov. Edwards’ non-discrimination executive order. The governor’s office received a copy of the handout given to lawmakers urging them to join the request. A note at the top of the handout indicated that Rep. Johnson had discussed the opinion with the Attorney General prior to requesting it. A copy of the handout is available here.
Furthermore, Rep. Johnson indicated in several social media posts over the last week that he had been in contact with the Attorney General’s office as they evaluated his written requests. The social media post is available by clicking here.
I cannot remain silent when he is using the power of his office to try to intimidate me and other common sense conservatives into silence on so many important issues.
Among other things, the governor’s news release affirms that he is monitoring my social media accounts and implies that there is something improper about my discussing constitutional issues and concerns with the Attorney General. Not only is it appropriate for me as a state representative (and constitutional attorney) to request an advisory opinion on a pressing issue from our state’s chief legal officer, it is customary and appropriate for a state official to provide the Attorney General with advance notice of any such written request.
The governor’s news release also accused me of “prais[ing] executive orders by previous administrations” while suggesting Edwards’ executive order concerning “gender identity” raises serious structural questions under the Louisiana Constitution. While I have only publicly commented on two previous executive orders in the past twenty years, both of those were quite different than the current situation. Those previous orders merely affirmed existing state statutes and constitutional principles–while the Edwards order introduces new and undefined legal terms and concepts and extends on its face to a broad range of persons, officers, and state contractors beyond the scope of the executive branch.
The detailed Attorney General Opinion issued May 24, affirms our serious concerns and concludes the Edwards order can have “no binding legal effect” because it clearly exceeds the governor’s constitutional authority in a number of ways.
Governor Edwards and his taxpayer-funded press office should have better things to do than attack me for fulfilling my duty as a state officer and raising legitimate constitutional questions that are of great concern to a large majority of the citizens of our state. His intimidation tactics will not work on me, and I will continue to stand for the common sense values of Louisiana.